Surf Talk-Surf Terms

surf terms

Surf Talk

Surfing terms, slang you will probable hear in and out of the water. It definitely isn’t comprehensive, trying to stay away from the obvious/ self explanatory/stereotypical words like gnarly,dude, hang ten.

Some of theses terms are subject to regional dialect and will vary depending upon where in the world you live.  eg. Beachie=Austrailia  U.S. Beachbreak=U.S.

If you got any lets here em.


Surf Terms Describing Waves /Ocean Conditions

A-Frame When a wave looks similar to the letter A-  You can find A-frames at Beach Breaks with good sandbars.  Surf Talk: its going off out there are perfect A-Frames up and down the beach.

Surf Term A-frame-wave

A-frame Wave Pt. Mugu







Peak- The top/highest part of an a about to break wave.

Shoulder- The areas just off the peak of the wave. Surf Talk: Grow a set and quit taking off on the shoulder.

Wind Swell- Swell/waves that are generated by localized winds. These winds are close to shore creating a short interval between swells.

Ground Swell- Swells generated farther from the coast with stronger winds and covering a larger area thus creating a swell that is bigger with longer period swell intervals.

Walled When a wave breaks and there isn’t much of a chance to ride the open face for very long.  Although walled waves aren’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the term walled is good eg. the wave stood up and formed a long fast wallSurf Talk: Ya its kind of walled out there but still got some fun ones.

The regional dialect and subset where I’m from will usually call  a walled day- Wally Cleaver

Close Out A bit like walled but more severe, when the wave  breaks all at once offering no chance to ride it at all,  can only go just go straight. Surf Talk: Didn’t really get any waves it was pretty much a close out. ….Close outs can be fun when it is hollow , you will be able to get a barrel, no chance of making it out but still can get a good view.

Surf Talk Close Out Wave

A Closed Out Wave- Kuta, Bali







Reeling This refers to when a wave keeps going and going offering long,fast good rides.  Surf Talk: Ah Ya mate it was reeling out there the waves were going for days.

Going Off When the surf is really good, also known as Firing or Pumping. Going off can also describe how someone is surfing. Surf Talk: You see Mike surf today, he was going off!

Heavy Waves are heavy when they are thick and big.  Surf Talk: It was so heavy out there, way heavier then it looks.

Hollow- When a wave is steep and barreling offering lots of room inside the tube. Surf Talk: When the tide dropped it got really hollow.

Spit- The spit of a wave is the water/spray/air that is forced out of a barreling wave. Surf Talk: Hoh, the waves spitting so hard.

Mushy- This is when the wave is the exact opposite of hollow waves.Weak, slow waves.  Longboards and Fishes are good for slow mushy waves, also can be good for beginners. Surf Talk: Could barely catch a wave it was so small and mushy, hate summer in So Cal.

Surfer Talk mushy-wave

Mushy, Weak Wave







Crumbly- When the top of a wave crumbles down the face. Onshore waves will often create crumbly waves. Surf Talk: The waves look alright a bit crumbly, probably can get one or two out there.

Offshore This refers to when the wind is blowing from the land to the ocean. Typically surfers like offshore winds as they stand waves up and make it more hollow. Off shore winds can sometimes blow to strong and make it a bit hard drop into a wave or even see when dropping into a wave because of the water being blown back. Surf Talk: It got so good when the wind swung around and turned off shore for an hour or two.

Surfer Term Off Shore Wind

Offshore TradeWind Uluwatu







Onshore- Pretty much the opposite of offshore , when the wind blows from the ocean to land. This can blow the wave down and create mushy waves, however it seems there are some surfers that are into onshore winds as they present opportunities to do their new school tricks.  Surf Talk: I don’t know it was pretty much shite all day long the onshore wind never let up.

Blown Out- When the wind is so strong(can be offshore or onshore) that it makes surfing a bit difficult and not really worth it. Surf Talk: The wind came up early and was blown out all day…… The regional dialect and subset where I’m from will usually call a blown out day- Victory at Sea

Glassy- When the winds are not blowing and the ocean surface is calm, the water can get real reflective and become like glass. Surf Talk:  The waves were small but it was hot and glassy all day, so it was fun.

Surf Lingo Glassy-Wave

Glassy Wave







Morning & Evening Glass- Refers to the few hours right after Sunrise and before Sunset when there is no wind and the ocean surface is calm and “glassy”.  Surf Talk: Ya were gonna wait to surf the evening glass off.

Sandbar/Sandbank- A Beachbreak will develop underwater sand dunes caused by currents and waves. Sandbars can be here one day and gone the next. Surf Talk: That sandbars have been going off all winter.

Wedgy/Wedge- What you give your little brother, or when swells come together from two different angles will sometimes create a wedgepiers/jetties/ natural outcroppings will bounce a swell and can also create a wedge situation.

Surfing Term wedgy wave

Wedgy Wave







Double Up- When one ocean swell/wave catches up to another when breaking. Surf Talk: The huge double ups were making those waves scary but fun.

Tidal Push- Sometimes on a real low tide the waves will get better with a incoming tide. Surf Talk: Its a bit slow out here, hopefully with the tidal push it will get better.


Surf Terms/Phrases

Just To Get Wet Surfers say this when the waves aren’t that good but feel like jumping in the ocean anyways.

Just To Get A Few- Pretty much the same as “just to get wet” waves probably aren’t that good and you convince yourself to paddle in hopes to just get a few.

Got a Few- This term means you went out to “just get a few” and you actually ended up having a bit of fun.

Have A Paddle/Dig A bit like like “just to get wet” but the waves can be firing. A basic  “I’m going surfing” phrase.

Good For What It Is- Phrase meaning the conditions/swell is not the best but still able to get some fun ones.

Get One In- Looking to get one last wave before calling it a day.

One Last One See “Get One In” only difference is you are probably having a good session when you get “one last one”.

Split The Peak- When two surfers go for the same peak, one goes left and the other right.

A Couple Out There Term used to describe the waves to someone, meaning there are a few fun/mediocre waves to be had.

Hows It Out There?– A question surfers getting ready to paddle out will ask surfers whom have just come in from a surf. Canned Responses: Ah its good for what it is or Its pretty fun or It was better earlier/Its getting better or There’s a couple out there etc etc…..

Over The Falls When a surfer does not standup in time or mistimes their pop up and ends up going with the lip of wave down to the bottom.

Surfer Lingo-going-over-the-falls

Going Over The Falls







Pull The Reigns/Pull Back- Term used  when paddling for a wave and you don’t go either because someone is in your way (acceptable) or you got scared (not acceptable) Don’t worry everyone has pulled back, just try not to do it to often or on a crowded day, the crowd can quickly turn on you and you will wind up not getting any waves.

Line Up- The area where you sit to catch waves, generally just outside of where the waves are breaking.

Outside Sometimes people will yell “outside” meaning there is a set coming so you better get paddling. You will also here the term Out The Back which basically means outside.

Caught Inside- This happens when a set comes and you aren’t far enough outside, being caught inside can mean tons of duckdiving.

Cleaned Up When you are caught inside and a large set comes and lands right on you.

Paddle Battle- Term describing having to try to out paddle other surfer(s) when getting a wave. Some surfers love to paddle battle best just to stay away from these types, there is no cure, they were never taught any sort of Surf Etiquette.

Noodle Arms Having no strength left in your arms after a long session of catching waves, battling current or battling the paddle battler.

Three To The Beach- A bit of a derogatory term to describe contest surfing.

Snowball When a another surfer paddles for a wave that is already being ridden- snowballing will make the wave break quicker than it naturally would have making the up and riding surfers wave shorter/close out.


Surf Gear Terms

Wettie- Term for Wetsuit.

Sled- Term for your Surfboard.

Log- Term used for a really long/big  longboard

Daily Driver Surfboard you use on the regular.

Leg Rope/KookCord The Leash that is used to attach surfboard to the ankle.

Quiver The Surfboards you own, if your lucky enough to have a couple

Blank- A block of foam used to shape Surfboards.

Glass Job The fiberglass and resin that covers a foam blank.

Tail/Traction Pad A pad that is stuck/glued onto the surfboard deck usually near the tail, it is used in place of Surf Wax.


Types Of Surfers

Look surfers are surfers but people being people we like to  group and categorize, so will do that here also just for kicks.

Kook Term usually to describe new surfers but better fits people who know how to surf and still does kooky things like drop in on people, snake, act like they are better then they really are.

Donkey Same as kook but just a bit more kookier

Seppo The Australian word for American surfers. From Yank- Septic Tank- Seppo. ( Aussie Strine runs deep and long, do a google search on it and you will see)

Aussie- Yup these are Australians.

Balo Aussie word for the Balinese.

Brazzo Another Aussie word for Brazilian Surfers.

Yobbo Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi

Euro The proliferation of surfing over in Europe is unreal…Run into the archetype of a surfer down on the beaches of Kuta and more than likely his name is Sven.

Soul Surfer- A term from the 60’s, used in the 70’s as an antithesis to the growing professional surfing movement- White Board, Black Wetsuit these guys have entitlement issues cause they don’t have stickers on their boards.

ProBro- A term used for the middling pro surfer, entering contest after contest looking for a industry teet to suckle. These Surfers have entitlement issues cause they have stickers on their board.








AspProBrosThe cream of the crop…. great surfers whom have a firm grip on the model/fashion industry.

Asp Professional-surfer-model

Pro Surfer Doing It







Old Carp Surfers who have been around, are old but still manage to get wave, these guys deserve waves they paddle for so let em have em.

Sponger- Bodyboarders, a bit of a derogatory term, some bodyboarders actually do charge.

Every Day Surfer- This term refers to Us.