Do you want to walk or talk like a surfer? Chill out with the locals in whichever locale you’ve found yourself? In recent years, surfing has become popular from Hawaii to California, Costa Rica to South Africa…and beyond. Surfers vernacular has also grown into an expansive language. Some words like “dude” have even been included in the Oxford English dictionary. The following is a bit of surf slang from around the world:
Popular terms related to waves include:
Swell : surfable waves.
Ankle Busters / snappers: Slang for small waves
Breaking : this is when a wave rises from deep to shallow water, gets higher and rounded with its back moving faster than its front and then falls.
Barrel: it’s the hollow part inside a wave.
Da kine: Hawaiian slang for best waves or they sometimes use it as a place holder for something that they cannot recall its name.
Gnarly: used to describe extreme or intense waves.
Popular vocabulary related to the sport include:
180 / 360: This is the degree of a surfer’s board during a maneuver, for example, a 180-degree turn.
Carve / carving: It is a classic surfing maneuver, but it is primarily what turning on a wave is called. In Europe, there is a surfing magazine known as carve.
Charging: This is where a surfer is going for it on a wave.
Wipeout : This is the act where the surfer falls off the surfing board.
Aerial / Air: This is an advanced surfing maneuver whereby the surfer plus the board leave the water/wave surface.
Bail: This is the act of jumping off the board to avoid a possible wipeout, often mid-wave.
Close out: This is the condition when a wave breaks out at once, therefore, “closing out” the surfer.
Man in the grey suit: This is slang for shark, mostly used in Australia and South Africa.
Drop-in: This is the act where a surfer catches up with a wave that another surfer is riding, therefore, cutting the surfer off. This is used to describe poor surfing etiquette.
Popular vocabulary related to people and behavior include:
Barney: A novice surfer or someone who is not good at surfing. Sometimes called a kook.
Grom: A young surfer, pre-teen/early teens.
Stoked / amped: enthusiastic or excited.
Mae: Costa Rica’s version of “dude”.
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