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SurferToday – “The Glossary of Surfing Terms”

Discover the vocabulary of surfing and learn new words:

Aerial – a surf maneuver where a surfer hits the crest of the wave and flies through the air
A-frame – a wave peak breaking left and right with perfect shape
Aggro – an Australian expression for aggressive surfing or aggressive surfer
Alaia – a surfboard made of wood originally used by Hawaiians to surf breaking waves, in the late 19th century
Aloha – a Hawaiian greeting that means “hello” or “goodbye”
Amped – excited, stoked
Backdoor – when a surfer pulls into a hollow section from behind the section
Backside – when a surfer rides with his back to the wave
Backwash – when a wave sweeps up the beach and returns to the ocean, sometimes colliding with incoming waves
Bail – an evasive maneuver activated when a surfer is caught inside or when he is about to wipeout
Bailing – letting go of your surfboard
Barrel – the tube, the curl of the wave
Bathymetry – the measurement of depths of water in oceans and seas
Beach break – waves that break over sandbars
Beach bum – someone, usually a surfer, that hangs around the beach
Bellyboard – a bodyboard, a small board used to ride waves in prone position
Blank – a rough block of polyurethane foam that will be transformed into a surfboard
Bodysurf – the sport of riding waves the body and swim fins
Bogging – what happens when a surfer’s weight is too far back, and the surfboard nose lifts up
Bombora – a deep water, offshore reef break
Bottom turn – when a surfer turns at the bottom of the wave to start trimming the optimal surf line
Bro – brother, mate
Burn – to drop in on someone, or steal a wave from another surfer without priority
Carve – a sharp turn on the wave face
Chandelier – water falling at a barrel opening threatening the tube rider
Chop – bumpy ocean and wave conditions that are rough due to strong winds and/or currents
Closeout – when a wave breaks all at once, with no shape or shoulder
Corduroy – the vision of a series of swells marching in from the horizon
Crest – the top and highest point of a wave
Cutback – a turn performed on the flats or in the shoulder of the wave, in order to get the surfer back on the surf line
Dawn patrol – early morning surf session
Deck – the top of the surfboard
Ding – a crack, hole or fracture in a surfboard
Drop in – to get in the right of way of a surfer who is already riding a wave
Drop – the moment after paddling in and standing up, just before the first turn of the wave face
Duck Diving – the technique of pushing the surfboard under and through a breaking wave
Dude – a cool person or surfer
Epoxy – a type of plastic resin used to produce surfboards
Fetch – the uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows without a significant change of direction
Fin – a hydrofoil mounted at the tail of a surfboard to improve directional stability and control through foot-steering
Flat – with no waves, or with no surf
Flats – the horizontal part of a breaking wave, also known as the shoulder
Flippers – swim fins
Floater – a surf maneuver where the rider goes over the top of a crumbling section and ends up in the flats
Foam – whitewater
Foam blank – the block of foam from which a surfboard is shaped
Foam board – a surfboard for beginners, with an exterior shell made of soft foam
Frontside – when a surfer rides facing the wave
Froth – stoked, amped or excited
Glassy – a maritime condition when there is no wind to ripple the wave face
Gnarly – awesome
Goofy foot – a surfer who rides waves with his right leg forward
Grommet – a young surfer
Groundswell – a swell that traveled thousands of miles through the ocean, with a period of 15 seconds or more
Gun – a big surfboard for riding big waves
Hang loose – a Hawaiian expression for a relaxing, easygoing and carefree attitude
Hang Ten – to surf a wave with all ten toes on the nose of the surfboard
Haole – an Hawaiian word for “foreigner”
Hawaiian scale – an underestimated way of measuring waves by the Hawaiians
Heat – a competitive period held in surf contests
Inside – the area where waves end, as opposed to outside
Kahuna – wizard, magician
Kick out – a surf maneuver done at the end of a wave ride to exit it
Knot – a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour
Kook – a beginner surfer, an inexperienced surfer or a bad surfer
Leash – the cord that attaches a surfboard to the surfer
Line-up – the spot in the ocean where surfers line up to catch waves, just behind the breaking zone
Lip – the curling part of a wave
Localism – an aggressive territorial protection of a surf spot by local surfers
Longboard – the longest surfboard
Lull – time between sets of wave with no waves breaking
Mack – big
Mental – crazy or radical
Mysto spot – a surf spot that breaks on a far away reef
Neoprene – an ultra stretchy rubber made from melted-down petroleum chips used to make wetsuits
Offshore wind – wind blowing from the shore out to the ocean, holding the curl line and smoothing the wave face
Onshore wind – wind blowing from the ocean toward shore, destroying the quality of waves
Out the back – an Australian expression for paddling through the breaking waves into the line-up zone
Outline – the shape of a surfboard from nose to tail
Outside – the line-up are, as opposed to inside
Paddle battle – a race between surfers to get into a curl first and thus gain the right of way
Paipo – a small bellyboard
Peak – the spot in the ocean where the wave breaks for both sides
Pearling – what happens when a surfer’s weight is too far forward and the surfboard nose dives underwater
Perfect 10 – a perfectly ridden wave in competitive surfing
Pit – the impact zone of the wave, or the most hollow part of the tube
Pitted – tubed, barreled
Polyurethane – the most common type of material used in surfboard manufacturing
Pop-up – the quick move a surfer makes to rise to a standing position when taking off on a wave
Punt – to perform an aerial maneuver
PWC – personal watercraft; a generic term for a jet ski
Quiver – the number/collection of surfboards owned by a surfer
Rail – the edge of a surfboard
Rash guard – a form-fitting shirt made of nylon-polyester-spandex mixture used under the wetsuit
Reef break – a wave that breaks over rock or coral
Reflection – when a wave strikes a hard object and bounces some of its energy off into another direction
Refraction – the effect by which a swell moving along a point of land slows down where it feels shallow water
Regular foot – a surfer who rides waves with his left leg forward
Right of way – priority given to the surfer closer to the breaking part of the wave
Rip – to surf very well
Rip current – a strong surface current of short duration flowing seaward from the shore, also known as rip tide
Rocker – the curve of the surfboard bottom from nose to tail viewed from the side
Rogue wave – an open ocean wave bigger than the current sea condition
Section – a part of the wave that breaks ahead of the curl line
Set – a group of waves
Shaka – a Hawaiian hand gesture used to say “hello,” “great,” “cool” and “alright”
Shaper – a surfboard designer and producer
Shoaling – the effect by which waves entering shallower water increase in height
Shore break – the area where the ocean waves meet the beach
Shortboard – a small surfboard
Skeg – an old expression for surfboard fin
Slab – an heavy reef break coming out of deep water and breaking in very shallow water
Snaking – the aggressive act of paddling under, around, or over the top of another surfer to get right of way
Soup – the broken foam of a wave
Stall – a surf maneuver when a surfer slows the speed the surfboard to let the tube catchup
Stance – the surfer’s feet position on a surfboard
Stick – a slang for surfboard
Stringer – the wooden material that runs down the center of the surfboard to give strength and flexibility to the foam
Stoked – enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited
SUP – stand up paddleboard
Surging wave – a wave that doesn’t have time to break because the transition from deep-water to shallow water is too fast.
Swell – energy powered by strong winds which produces wave trains
Take-off – the start of a wave ride
Thruster – the three-fin surfboard design created by Simon Anderson
Tidal bore – a rare phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave that travels up a river
Tow-in – when surfers use personal watercraft to tow into waves that can’t be paddled into.
Trimming – finding the perfect surf line for speed on the wave face
Trough – the bottom of the wave, the opposite of a crest
Tsunami – a giant and deadly wave
Tube – the hollow interior of a wave, also known as barrel
Turtle roll – a surfing technique where the surfer flips the board over in front of an oncoming wave to get under it
Twin-fin – a surfboard with two fins
Wahine – a female surfer
Wave height – the difference between the elevations of a crest and a neighboring trough
Wave period – the time between two consecutive wave crests
Wave train – a group of swells of similar wavelengths –
Wavelength – the distance between the crest of one wave to the crest of the next wave
Wax – a paraffin-based product which is applied to the surfboard deck to increase traction and reduce slippery
Wedge – a steep wave
Wetsuit – a garment made of neoprene which provides thermal insulation
Whitewater – the foamy, white-colored water created where a wave breaks
Windswell – a group of waves generated by local winds, within less than 800 miles from the coast
Wipeout – an unexpected fall off a surfboard while surfing a wave, or surf accident


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