San Diego Surfers Surfology
Here is our attempt at providing a good
depiction of surf terms and slang that are commonly found in today's surf
lingo. If you have some lingo that we're missing and would like to
contribute to SanDiegoSurfers.com, go ahead and submit it below!
San Diego Surfers Surfology Dictionary
When a wave breaks and creates an A effect
with both a right and left wave breaking at the same time. These often occur
at beach breaks on a clean day of surf.
Angry or pissed off person or attitude. "That guy went aggro when the grom
dropped in on him."
A surfing maneuver where a surfer catches air
while on his board during any part of the wave. There are several different
tricks to do while in the air but just catching air is a difficult task.
A term used to describe wave size. Roughly 2
feet and under, in other words, get the long board!
To enter the tube from the opposite side of the peak from which the surfer
Surfing board shorts or trunks.
Get off a wave before it closes out on the surfer.
A surfer who is trying to act like a veteran,
but in reality should still be surfing whitewater and does not have much
A surfing break with no rocks or reefs below
the water. These breaks are usually sandy and great for beginners.
'70's design wetsuit in which a flap is pulled through between the thighs
and hooked to the torso portion of a wetsuit.
A good looking girl or women.
A guy who pulls up to a surf spot in a convertible BMW with the egg board
hanging out. (Also see Buffy)
The smaller fins located on either side of the main skeg or fin itself.
The foam in which the surfboard is constructed of internally.
When a wind blows on the back of the waves
making them mush over and lose power. (Also see Onshore Wind)
Inside the "impact zone."
A turn at the bottom of the wave in front of
the breaking portion.
A helmet worn by some surfers while surfing.
A particular area where waves break upon the
A term used in short with brother or good
She's always with Biff. A beach bunny that
hangs out while her partner surfs.
A term used to describe wave size. Roughly 4-6
Rough water conditions caused by strong winds
and or a storm.
Church of the Open Sky:
The veneration caused by the act of surfing.
Clean Up Set:
A much larger set of waves that comes
infrequently and breaks farther out. Since a majority of surfers will get
caught and dragged in , the line up is said to be cleaned up.
When a wave does not break in any direction
but just breaks all at once and doesn't allow for anywhere to surf.
A dedicated surfer who will go out in all conditions, with all qualities of
Extreme happiness or overjoyfulness caused by surfing.
The highest point of one wave.
The breaking portion of the wave.
To turn back into the breaking portion of the
wave to either slow down or have fun!
Being in the water to see the sun rise. Most dawn patrol sessions are on
purpose to avoid crowds and to capture the best conditions of the day.
The top of the surfboard.
When the glassing of a board becomes detached from the foam core, causing
bubbles. Can spell doom for the board if left untreated.
A hole, puncture or scratch on a surfboard.
Parents who use the beach as a baby sitter.
A Wahine who is a particularly good surfer.
The last unbroken face of a wave between two closeouts. Sometimes the only
exit off the wave
A term used very often in surf lingo. Depicts
a friend or buddy.
To paddle and drop into a wave from the top of
the crest. The initial starting point of the wave.
The best of the best, a perfect day of surf
with no one out. This word describes a day, a surf session or a wave that
you'll want to remember forever.
A time during contests that competitors get to "do their thing" and surf
freestyle, judging may or may not occur.
Extreme Tow-In Surfing:
A type of surfing that includes using a jet
ski to obtain the speed to surf enormous waves that are too large to paddle
The portion of wave that has not broken. This
is the portion that has the most power and provides the most fun!
A surfer with no regard or respect for fellow surfers.
No waves, no surf, a bad day for surfers!
The increase in rocker near the nose of the board.
Traditional unofficial footwear of surfers.
When a surfer rides the top of the
breaking wave that is over the curl or barrel and air drops back into the
A young slight of stature female surfer, combo of girl and midget.
An older experienced surfer who has wisdom of the waves. (Also see Sensai)
Usually occurring in the early morning or late
evening when the wind dies off and the ocean calms down and helps clean up
the surf for better waves.
When the winds are calm or offshore, the ocean
is smooth and calm which can resemble glass.
When it all comes together for a surfer on the wave, everything is
synchronicous and kopasetik.
A scary, or amazing event in regards to
surfing. Can also be used to describe a surfing move or wave, "That was a
When a surfer rides with there right foot
From an ancient Popeye cartoon, goons rule their local breaks and the shores
with an iron fist.
Grabbing the Rail:
When a surfer grabs the outside portion of the
surfboard rail while performing a maneuver or commonly seen while surfing
backside in a barrel.
The barrel, tube or cavern of a wave. The ultimate place to ride the wave.
The portion of the wave which has not broken, thus resembling
Gremmie or Gremlin:
Archaic term used by surfers back in the '60's for young surfers.
A term derived from Hawaiian language which
describes a young surfer.
A long, splendor, and thin board used to surf
large waves. It allows the surfer to enter the wave early and gain speed.
A long boarding move when you put one foot
over the nose of the board and ride the wave.
A long boarding move when you put the toes of
both feet over the nose of your board and ride the wave.
A term derived from Hawaiian language which
means a new person in the water or a foreigner.
To get a woodie while surfing.
Wave slider or surfer in Hawaiian
A term used
to describe wave size. Roughly 6-8 feet.
Taking off on a wave just before the wave breaks. (See Two
Not the guy who gets all the chicks, a wannabe who spends
more time on the beach than in the water.
The amount of time that a breaking wave holds a surfer under
its control before releasing him or her to return to the
surface to get a breath of air.
surfer learned to surf or surfs regularly.
To scream for your friend after they ride a particularly
Large crowd at your favorite peak.
The zone in
the surfing lineup where the set waves break and make it
difficult to paddle. This isn't the best place to hang out!
section to where waves are breaking, this is closest to the
beach with surfable waves.
terms to beach breaks but a jetty is a formation of rocks
that jet out into the ocean to protect sand movement or
A large wave with an open barrel.
Increase in rocker at the tail of a board, opposite of "flick."
A term used to describe wave size. Roughly 3-4
feet and under.
Something who doesn't know how to surf or is
always in the way on a wave. Usually this word is not used in good context.
The cord, consisting of rubber and rope, that
connect the board to the surfer.
When a wave breaks from right to left from the
surfer's point of view.
This is where the waves consistently breaks
and where most of the surfers sit and wait for the set waves to come in.
breaking crest at the very top of the wave that has not
fully broken yet.
When a specific surf spot has locals who get
angry when new surfers come to surf the break.
Someone who generally rides a Long board.
When the tide is high, winds are onshore or if
the swell does not have much power, the waves sort of crumble without much
When a surfer rides with their left foot
forward. (Also see Regular Foot)
When a full moon occurs and it provides enough
light to go surfing at night. This can be very dangerous so take cautions.
A surfer's adjective used to describe the water being cold.
"The water is a bit nippy today."
After a particularly difficult paddle out, your arms are so weakened they
feel like wet spaghetti.
The top of the surfboard where it comes to a
tip on short boards and is rounded on long boards.
Santa Ana winds that are often common in the
Winter season. These winds blow into the waves which cause clean and glassy
conditions. For the most part, these winds improve the lines of the swell
and often cause the waves to barrel more frequently.
Circular dings in the glass of the board, may appear to be a small spiderweb.
Usually a South or West wind that causes the
waves to break prematurely and can often cause poor conditions.
The furthest point out to sea where the waves
are breaking. Outside can also be used to describe an incoming set of waves.
A term used to describe wave size. Roughly
Over the Falls:
When a surfer is pitched over with the lip of
the wave and then dragged under water by the waves power.
The point at where the wave peaks over and
breaks, which creates a surf able face to surf.
A different definition for every surfer and
can be anything from a 2 foot pealing wave to 12 foot barrels. Part of the
fun in surfing is always searching for that perfect wave.
Pet the Cat:
Dragging your hand in the face of the wave to slow you down to enter the
Getting caught high on the face of the wave as it is breaking and being
pitched with the lip as it throws out.]\
Pitched and Sucked:
The worse possible scenario. A surfer gets caught high on the face of a
hollow breaking wave and then gets pitched with the lip. After landing in
front of the wave, the surfer is then sucked up the face of the wave and
pitched again onto the reef.
Another name for a Longboard, generally over 9' in length.
The optimal position on the wave in which to catch the wave. The pocket can
also be known as the curl of the wave where the barrel is occuring.
A surfer who talks the talk but can not walk
the walk. Someone who looks, acts and talks like a surfer but can hardly
paddle out or not surf at all.
The wrinkles in your hands and toes after a long session.
To end a wave by maneuvering the board over
the back of the wave.
A collection of surfboards that can be used
for different conditions or wave size.
Being suspended and tumbled in the surf after wiping out.
The contoured sides of the board that assist
Bouncing off the reef after being pitched from
the top of the wave in shallow water.
When set waves come toward the beach and break
further out as a result of a reef under the water. Most reef breaks are a
combination of rock and reefs that create the peeling effect on these such
When a surfer carves up to the lip of the wave
and then re enters the wave.
When a surfer rides with their left foot
When a wave breaks from left to right from the
surfer's point of view.
Rip, ripping or ripper:
Either a style of surfing or a surfer that
surfs very aggressively and charges the waves.
Rogue Wave or Set:
A wave or set of waves that is much larger than those typically breaking
that day, often performs a "clean up" of unwary surfers on the inside.
Experienced, usually older surfers who help out younger surfers. (Also see
A series of waves in a swell that are surfed.
Sets are usually 3-4 waves but can very greatly on swell conditions.
The gesture made by extending a thumb and little finger while rotating, also
known as "hang loose."
Spongers or body boarders.
Waves that break very close to the shore or on
The end section of the wave that has yet to
break or be ridden.
A surfer who is quick and light on their feet
and carves up the face of the wave.
The main fin on a surfboard.
Mushy, ugly surf that has little to no shape
The perfect portion of the wave.
Snaking or to Snake a Wave:
To take off of another surfer on a wave and
steal the wave. The surfer closest to the breaking portion of the wave gets
the surf that specific wave. Taking off in front of that surfer is referred
to as snaking and shouldn't be done.
A surfer who often goes alone, and has a deeper understanding of the karma
of surfing, the stoke.
Barneys or kooks who sit in the way of your ride without making an effort to
get out of your way while you're surfing.
A body boarder, soft board or body surfer.
Another term for a surfboard.
To be very happy and excited. Surfers are
usually very stoked after a good wave or an awesome session of surfing.
A hood worn to protect against cold while surfing during the winter.
A road trip to find the best surf or a trip to do nothing but surf.
A condition caused by extreme cold water penetrating the inner ear. Causes
the fragile bones in the ear to expand.
Generally a local who feels that the beach belongs to them and them alone.
Very aggressive, although may not surf very well. Best to avoid this type
A term used to describe good surf.
An expert surfer, usually senior in years.
A beach where it's just not happening.
The point when you drop into the wave and are
about to start your ride.
The bottom of the surfboard.
When two surfers are on one board riding
A log, a very long, thick surfboard.
The change of tides throughout the day due to
the moon and gravitational changes.
The movement of the ocean in and out
throughout the period of the day due to Earth's location to the
gravitational pull of the moon.
When the surfer is pushed so far underwater that his leash pulls the tail of
his board under, and the front of the board stands upright in the water.
A turn at the lip of the wave which angles the
surfer almost vertical and then re enters the wave.
Tow in Surfing:
While surfing huge waves, a Jet-ski is often
used to tow surfers into waves that are too large to paddle into.
Water temp is adequately warm so that a wetsuit is not required to hit the
Tube, Barrel or Cavern:
The tube of the wave where it pitches outward
and creates a spherical tube in the wave where you can get covered by the
Waves are breaking very hollow or something is really cool (Archaic, from
Two Paddle Takeoff:
Taking off on a wave just before it begins to break.
Victory at Sea:
Unsurfable, stormy conditions that resemble
the fake ocean that was used in the TV show.
A term used to describe wave size. Roughly 2-4
A Hawaiian term which means "girl"
A barney or a kook.
Walk the Nose:
A long board term used to describe when a
surfer walks up to the nose to either Hang Five or Ten.
The face of the wave before it has been
The surfer who drops in behind you after you have been riding the face of a
wave for a while. Also could be used as "That guy just weaseled my wave."
When a wave is steep and has sections which
creates wedges in the wave that can increase speed and create a fun place
for an air or huge cutback.
Whitewater or White Wash:
The white foam part of the wave that occurs
after the wave has broke. This can also be known as the Soup.
Getting "worked" or traumatized by a wave during a wipe out. Being Worked
usually involves getting pitched, sucked, doing a reef bounce or
(See Impact Zone)
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