Surfing Jargon Explained: Slang and Lingo

Greetings fellow surfers! Are you a newbie to the surfing scene and struggling to keep up with all the lingo and slang? Or maybe you’ve been catching waves for a while but still finding yourself confused when someone drops a surfing term you’ve never heard of before. Fear not, for SurfingGPT-4 is here to break it all down for you!

From gnarly to stoked, barrel to floater, we’ve got you covered. In

Surfing Jargon Explained: Slang and Lingo

As with any sport or hobby, surfing has developed its own set of terms, slang and jargon. These words not only make communication between surfers easier out in the water, but also create a unique identity and culture within the surfing community. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, understanding the common surfing terms used in and out of the water is crucial to developing your skills and fitting in with the surfing community. This guide aims to explain some of the most commonly used surfing jargon, from basic beginner terms to advanced techniques and everything in between. So grab your board and let’s dive in!

Surfing Jargon Explained: Slang and Lingo

Are you just getting into surfing and feeling overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar language? Or maybe you’ve been in the game for a while, but you’re still unsure about some of the more obscure terms surfers use. Whatever your experience level may be, it’s essential to understand the lingo if you want to communicate effectively with other surfers and fit in with the surfing community. In this post, we’ll dive into the most common surfing jargon, from the basics to advanced techniques, so you can become a surfing pro in no time!

Surfing Basics

First things first, let’s cover some of the most basic terms you’ll need to know as a surfer:


The wave is the most critical part of surfing, and it’s what you’re trying to ride as a surfer. When you see a surfer riding a wave, they’re essentially riding a wall of water that has been generated by wind over the ocean’s surface. There are many different types of waves, including beach breaks, point breaks, and reef breaks, to name a few.


The board is the piece of equipment that allows you to ride the waves. Surfboards are typically made of foam and fiberglass, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the type of wave you’ll be riding and your skill level. You can find used surfboards for sale in most surf shops, and getting a secondhand board is an excellent way to save some money when you’re first starting.


Wax is a sticky substance that you apply to your board to make sure you don’t slip off while surfing. Wax is typically made of beeswax or paraffin, and you’ll need to reapply it regularly to ensure you always have a good grip on your board. If you’re just starting and don’t want to spend money on wax, you can use a simple bar of household soap.

Slang and Lingo

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics let’s take a look at some of the slang and lingo you’ll hear other surfers using out in the water.


A ‘barney’ is a surfer who’s new to the sport and still learning. If you’re just starting out, you might feel like a bit of a barney, but don’t worry! We were all barneys once.


A ‘grom’ is a young surfer, usually under the age of 16. It’s short for ‘grommet,’ which is a reference to the small size of the surfers compared to the boards they ride.


‘Stoked’ is a term that means someone is thrilled or excited about something. In surfing, it’s often used to describe the feeling of catching a great wave. If you’re a surfer, there are few feelings better than being stoked about a ride.


A ‘shaka’ is a hand gesture used in surfing culture to show appreciation or encouragement. It involves extending your thumb and pinkie fingers while curling in your three middle fingers. Think of it as a combination of a peace sign and a fist bump.

Advanced Techniques

Once you’ve got the basics and the lingo down, it’s time to start learning some more advanced surfing techniques. Here are a few terms you might hear when surfers are talking about these techniques:


A ‘barrel’ is one of the most sought-after features of any wave. It’s the section of the wave where the surfer can ride inside the curl of the wave. Riding inside the barrel requires skill and balance.


A ‘cutback’ is a technique used by surfers to change direction and gain speed. When a surfer approaches the top of a wave, they’ll carve a smooth turn back down towards the bottom of the wave, helping them to maintain their speed and position within the wave.


A ‘floater’ is a move where a surfer rides up onto the top of a breaking wave and then glides back down to the water. It’s a tricky maneuver that requires excellent balance and timing.


Understanding the lingo is essential to becoming a successful surfer, and thanks to this guide, you’re now one step closer to mastering the art of surfing. Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been riding waves for years, knowing the surf terms used in and out of the water will make your experience even more enjoyable. So get out there, find some used surfboards for sale, and start riding those waves like a pro!

Surf Report

Another phrase that you may come across in the surfing community is ‘surf report.’ What is a surf report, and why is it so important? Before heading out to catch waves, surfers will typically check the surf report to see what the waves are like. This report provides essential information such as the size of the waves, the direction they are breaking, and whether there are any hazards to look out for. Knowing the surf report can help surfers plan their day, ensuring they pick the best beach and the best time to catch the biggest waves.

Surf Etiquette

When it comes to surfing, it’s not just about riding the waves but also respecting the other surfers around you. Surfing has its own set of unwritten rules, and it’s essential to understand them to avoid any confrontation or accidents out in the water. A few general rules to keep in mind include always yielding to the surfer closest to the breaking part of the wave, avoiding dropping in on someone’s wave, and staying out of the way of more experienced surfers. Following these unspoken rules of surfing will not only keep you safe but also show your respect for the surfing community.

Sustainable Surfing

As surfers, we have an inherent love and respect for the ocean and the environment. It’s crucial to us that our sport remains sustainable and that we do our part to protect the ocean and its wildlife. Sustainable Surfing involves the use of eco-friendly surfing equipment and practices that reduce waste and carbon emissions. You can find eco surfboards made using materials such as bamboo, cork, and other sustainable alternatives to foam and fiberglass. Additionally, surfers can also reduce their carbon footprint by carpooling to the beach, using biodegradable surf wax, and picking up any litter or debris they come across during their surfing experience.


Now that you have a good understanding of the jargon and slang used in the surfing community, as well as other important information that can enhance your surfing experience, you’re ready to hit the waves like a pro. Remember, surfing isn’t just a sport; it’s a culture and a way of life. Accurately using the surf terms and following surf etiquette can help build relationships with like-minded individuals in the surfing community. So, get out there, check the surf report, and find the best used surfboards for sale to start your surfing journey today!


Now that you know all about surfing jargon, here are some common questions that beginner and experienced surfers alike may have:

What’s the best way to learn surfing slang and jargon?

The best way to learn surfing slang and jargon is to immerse yourself in the surfing community. Spend time talking to other surfers, read surfing magazines, and watch surfing videos. Over time, you’ll start to pick up the lingo naturally and use it without even realizing it.

What’s the difference between a longboard and a shortboard?

Longboards are longer and wider than shortboards and are the best option for beginners. They are more stable and easier to paddle, making them great for catching small waves. Shortboards, on the other hand, are narrower, and their shape allows more maneuverability and speed.

Do I need to be physically fit to surf?

Surfing is a physically demanding sport, and you’ll need to be in decent cardiovascular shape to paddle and catch waves. However, you don’t need to be a super athlete to start surfing. With practice, you’ll gradually improve your fitness and be able to catch larger and more challenging waves.

What should I wear when surfing?

When surfing, it’s essential to wear comfortable and practical clothing such as a wetsuit, rashguard, or board shorts. Wetsuits come in different thicknesses and are essential in colder water conditions. Rashguards are perfect for sun protection and can be worn alone or under a wetsuit. Board shorts are best for warm weather and can be paired with a rashguard for added sun protection.

How do I choose the right surfboard for me?

Choosing the right surfboard depends on your experience level, weight, and the type of wave you’ll be surfing. Beginners should look for wider and thicker boards with extra volume, whereas more experienced surfers may prefer narrower, shorter boards that allow for more maneuverability. Check with a professional at a surf shop to help you choose the best board for your level and needs.

What’s the best time to go surfing?

The best time to go surfing depends on the waves and the tides. You’ll want to check the surf report to see when the best waves are coming in and what direction the wind is blowing. Typically, the hours before and after high tide offer the best waves for surfing.

What’s the difference between a beach break and a point break?

A beach break is a type of wave that breaks over a sandy bottom. It’s usually preferred by beginners since it’s less dangerous than other types of waves. A point break is a wave that breaks along a point or a rocky outcropping. The wave generated by this type of break is typically more challenging to ride and is preferred by experienced surfers.

Can surfing be dangerous?

Surfing can be dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken. Always surf with a buddy and be aware of the conditions and your abilities. Additionally, always wear a leash to ensure that you don’t get separated from your surfboard and avoid surfing