Are you down with surf lingo? There is so much surf slang out you know the difference between a front-side pit and pig-dogging a barrel?

Ok, do you know what this sentence means?: ‘I got up for the dawny, the wind was offshore and the waves were double over head with spitting barrels.’

The times are changing though so fear not, here at Surf Holidays we know how confusing surfing can become when it’s being talked about, which is why we have decided to write a secret weapon for the newcomers to the world of surfing… Surf Holidays surf term glossary!

Surfing vocabulary is slightly confusing, a little weird and highly imaginative, so have a read below and put it to practice when paddling out on your surfing holidays or even just drop some surf knowledge on the groms at the local!

Aerial –
A moved pulled off by advanced surfers. Can be a multitude of manoeuvres, but must be performed above and from the wave in the air.

A-Frame –
Refers to the way a wave breaks. This is the type of wave surfers are after, creates perfect barrelling lefts and right hand waves at the same time.

– Short for aggressive in the water and line-up. Also can be applied to a person’s attitude.

Amped –
Extremely excited and happy to be going surfing. Can be applied to any activity.

Ankle Peelers –
This refers to extremely small surf that is still just about rideable.

Backdoor –
This when you pull into a barrel from behind the peak. Some of the deepest barrels can be had when you backdoor them.

Backside –
For regular footed surfers, backside would be going left on a wave and for goofy footers this would be a right handed wave. It refers to surfing with your back towards the wave.

Banks –
When someone asks; ‘How are the banks looking?’ they are referring to the sandbanks on the beach and their effect on the waves.

Barrel –
This is the hollow circular part of the wave that surfers the world over strive to be in.

Beach Bunny
– The name for girls and women who go to the beach to watch surfers and work on their tan. It’s basically a full time job in some countries!

Beach Leech –
A fantastic term given to those who always turn up at the beach borrowing boards, using your wax and raiding your cool-box.

Blank –
The name given to the piece of foam that a surfboard is shaped from.

Blown out –
The term given to the sea when it’s stormy and un-rideable. A good day to stay indoors!

Boardies –
This refers to the shorts you wear surfing or down the beach. A good pair of boardies will hold up strong on that two month Indo trip.

Booger –
This is a slang term for our prone riding brethren, bodyboarders.

Bra/Bro - A term of endearment towards other surfers, shortened from brother.

Breakwater -
Boulders, cement, and/or steel extending out into the water and designed to reduce shoreline erosion but can actually result in good wedge waves from side wash.

Carve –
This is what turning on a wave is referred to. Also refers to an English surf magazine.

Caught Inside –
Probably one of the worst things that can occur when surfing, especially when it’s big. This means when you are caught in the impact zone with waves breaking in front of you.

– A term given to the way in which a person surfs a wave of consequence, e.g. The two guys out at Nazare are charging.

Clean –
This is the desired wave face type caused by offshore or little wind.

Clean up set –
When a much larger set of waves than seen all day comes through and catches everyone inside.

Close out
– When a wave comes in with one big long face and shuts down all at one time.

Corduroy –
This is when swell fills into a bay and the ocean looks like corduroy fabric.

Cranking/Pumping –
When the waves are really, really good.

Crest –
The top of the wave

Cut Back –
A manoeuvre where you turn back towards the breaking part of the wave.

Dawn Patrol/Dawny
– This refers to going for a surf at first light.

Deck –
This is the part of your board that you stand on.

Doggy door –
This refers to when a surfer is in the barrel and they just about make it out of the wave before it shuts down on them.

Drop in –
Dropping in on another surfer is one of the worst surf crimes you can do! A surfer catches a wave that another surfer is already on, ruining the ride for the surfer who has priority.

Duck Dive –
This the manoeuvre that aids in you getting out to the line-up. It involves pushing down on the front of your board and using your knee to push the rest of the board under the oncoming wave.

Epic –
Another term used to describe really good surf conditions. Often reserved for the best days of the year.

Face –
The unbroken part of the wave that surfers glide across.

Fakie –
The same as skating, this refers to riding backwards and tail first on a wave. Often done after an air or power turn.

– These are what keep your board stable and allows for turns and manoeuvrability.

Firing –
Another term used for great waves, e.g. ‘The waves were firing this arvo bro!’

Flat –
When there are no waves at all, not even ankle peelers!

Foamies –
Soft top surfboards that are normally used by beginner surfers at surf schools, but can used by all.

Frontside –
The opposite to backside, surfing with your front towards the wave.  A regular footed surfer going right or a goofy footed surfer going left will be surfing frontside.

Froth –
This is the white airy foam that is left after a breaking wave.

Frothing –
Acting excitedly towards something surf related. E.g. ‘The groms were frothing over their new wetsuits on the dawn patrol.’

– A smooth water surface and waves that resemble glass.

– Large and dangerous surf conditions.

Goofy Foot
– The surfing stance with your right foot forward.

Green room –
The inside of the barrel.

– A young surfer typically under the age of 16.

Ground swell
– Large consistent swells generated by far away low pressure storms.

– A large surfboard used for surfing big waves.

Hang Five/Ten
– A traditional longboard move where you put your five or ten toes over the nose of your board.

Heavy –
Can be used to describe powerful waves or a group of aggressive locals at a particular spot. E.g. ‘the wolf-pack guys at Pipeline are heavy.’

Hollow –
Used to describe barrelling waves. E.g. ‘the waves are super hollow today.’

– Another term for a barrel.

Kick out
– To pull out of a wave.

Impact zone –
The area where waves are breaking. The toughest part to get through.

Indo –
The short abbreviation of Indonesia, a popular spot for travelling surfers.

Kook –
A beginner surfer who gets in the way and doesn’t know what they’re doing.

– The leg rope that keeps you attached to your board.


Line Up
– The area out the back where you sit and catch waves.

– Multiple swell lines.

– The pitching tip of the wave.

– A term used for a long-board.

– A gap between waves when the ocean calms.

Maxed Out
– Un-surfable large waves.

Mushy/Mushburger –
Used to describe onshore weak waves.

– Another term to describe falling of a wave. E.g. ‘bro I got so nailed on my last wave!’

Noodle arms
– When you can’t paddle anymore due to surfing too much.

– The front of your surfboard.

Offshore –
When the wind blows from the land towards the ocean creating clean waves.

Onshore –
When the wind blows from the ocean towards the land creating undesirable conditions.

– The spot past the breaking waves where you sit, wait and catch waves.

– An area beyond the line-up where clean up waves break.

- When the wave face is taller than the person riding it.

Over the falls –
To wipe-out and get dragged over by the lip.

Party Wave
– When you and others catch a wave at the same time for fun. Not a drop in!

– Famous Hawaiian reef break.

– A mass produced plastic based board produced by machine.

– This refers to the person who is closest to the breaking part of the wave when trying to catch. When a wave is approaching the surfer closest to the curling, breaking part of the wave has first priority to catch it.

Pull out
– To pull back on a wave and not catch it.

– Used to describe really good surf. E.g. ‘the surf was pumping yesterday bra.’

– The sides of your surfboard.

Regular foot
– The surfing stance with your left foot forward on the front of the board.

– A current of water in the ocean. Also known as a riptide.

– The bottom curve of your surfboard.

– The organisation Surfers Against Sewage.

– A collection of waves that pulse in.

– Riding a good barrel. E.g. ‘I got so shacked on my last wave.’

– A hand signal used to greet other surfers and a sign of endearment to other surfers.

– Used to describe something impressive.

– Used to describe something unsafe. E.g. ‘the waves on the reef this morning were so sketchy!’

– A powerful turn resulting in loads of spray coming off your board.

– When you continually paddle pass people in priority to catch waves.

– The result of hollow and powerful waves braking. A mist comes flying out of the barrel.

– A bodyboarder.

– Another name for a surfboard.

– To feel happy and excited.

– The wood strip that runs down the middle of your surfboard.

– The raw form of waves.

– The rear section of your board.

Take off
– The starting part of riding a wave.

Toes on the nose
– Another term used for hanging five/ten.

Tow in
– To be towed into a wave with the use of a jet-ski or boat.

– To glide away.

– Once again, another name for a barrel.

– A popular Balinese surf break.

– The substance you rub on the top of your board for traction.

– A type of wave caused by side wash from a breakwater, sandbanks or rock face. Causes waves to wedge up. The most famous wedge in the world is Newport Wedge in California.

Wipe out
– To fall off a wave.

Other articles you may also want to read:
Kelly Slaters top 10 rules for success
These exercises will have you in the best possible shape for your surfing holidays