Surfing Terms Explained

Published on December 02, 2020

Every sport has its own unique vocabulary, specific terms, jargon and slang. However, surfing is in a league of its own. To someone who is unfamiliar with the said sport, surf lingo can seem like an entirely different language. If you have ever had the chance or overheard two seasoned surfers talk about a swell forecast, you will know exactly what we are talking about.

To be able to speak like a surfer, you need to know the language of surfing. Quite honestly, speaking like a surfer is easier than you might think. All it requires is a quick glance at the list below to grasp the basics of surfing terms and dig right into that conversation. Hereafter, you will finally be able to understand what the competitors are saying in those WSL post-heat interviews, instead of just sitting there and nodding your head.

To help you get started, we have selected some common and useful surfing terms so that you fit right in at the beach next time you go for a ride on the waves.


Wipeout is the act of falling from your surfboard when riding a wave. Novices and beginners who want to speak like a surfer will find themselves very well acquainted with this word.


Akaw, in surfing, means awesome, cool.


A term used by surfers to describe a feeling of excitement or being pumped up.


In surfing, bailing means jumping off your board into the water in order to avoid a bad encounter.


It is the point at which the surfer is cleared out and sinking underneath the surface and their surfboard is weaving here and there connected with them through a leash.


Leggie is the leg rope, lease or the cord that ties your ankle to the tail of the surfboard so it is not washed away into the ocean when you wipeout. It is made of lightweight urethane and is available in varying sizes. The thicker Leggies are for big waves and thinner ones are for the small waves.


This is the area of the wave that is closest to the curl or whitewash. The Pocket is where you should surf if you want the most speed. It is the steepest part of a wave and can also be called the energy zone.


A thruster is a three-finned surfboard, invented back in 1980 by an Australian surfer, named Simon Anderson. It has three equally sized fins built on the bottom of the surfboard. Nowadays it is the most popular fin design for modern surfboards.

Related: Unique And Funny Gifts For People Who Wants To Learn Surfing


A Kook is a surfer who endangers or impedes other surfers. Generally, it is someone who is clueless about surfing or has little understanding of surfing etiquettes. Usually, beginners are called Kooks but experienced surfers are also subject to sporadic moments of kookism on the waves.


Any individual who needs to talk like a surfer should realize that a Cutback is a riding move. Performed by cutting on the open face and bringing the surfboard back around in an arcing movement; to the point that you bounce back off the whitewash. Since a Cutback can be performed on the flattest portion of a wave, it is viewed as one of the principal moves beginners and intermediates will learn.


The demonstration of propelling your board over the lip and getting off the surface of the water is called Punt or Aerial. It is an accomplished move that should just be endeavored by an absolute best surfer. It requires loads of speed and a decent incline from which to launch off.


Onshore refers to the direction that the breeze is blowing and whether it is positive for a particular break. Inland breezes blow from the sea towards the land, which crumbles the lip and causes ribbing on a wave. Seaward breezes blow from the land out to the ocean, preparing the waves and making them simpler to ride.


The purpose of lift-off for a surfer trying to attempt a punt/aerial. Usually, the incline will be the lip of a wave or an approaching segment.

Going over the falls

This term means being sucked over with a crashing wave after pulling back on the takeoff or a failed duckdive. Funny when it happens to a companion. Not all that entertaining when it happens to you.


It is a procedure by which a surfer lowers the board under the water to jump underneath an oncoming wave. This technique is named after the manner in which ducks plunge underneath the water when fishing. A key expression if you wish to talk like a surfer.


At the point when a wave crushes out the back just for the whitewash to subside before it breaks once more, it is known as a reformer. A reformer is a superb wave for novices on longboards, given that it has less force and breaks near shore.

The back

The territory past the breaking waves where the lineup is arranged. This is the place where you will surf once you figure out how to effectively explore the shorey and duckdive.


Shorey refers to waves that break on the shore. Frequently they dump hard on the sand and can demonstrate challenging to move beyond. It is also called the shore break.


The region out the back where the waves are breaking. This is the spot most surfers will sit to guarantee they're in the best situation for when a set shows up. It is also called the takeoff zone. This is where most of the surfers hang tight for their fortunes, sitting on their surfboards.


Set waves are huge waves that come in at least two at a time. They are commonly the most searched after waves in any swell. This is because they offer more force and longer rides. Talking like a surfer will include discussing set waves.


Twinny is an informal term for a twin-blade surfboard. First used back in the 1940s, however, it was not until many years after that Californians started to refine its design. In the long run, it was eliminated as the thruster turned out to be more mainstream. Presently it is viewed as a novelty fin setup rather than a performance one.

Barreling wave

This is the point when the lip of a wave tosses over to shape an empty chamber.

Getting barreled

The demonstration of a surfer maneuvering into or being concealed by a barreling wave. Regarded as the ultimate feeling when it comes to surfing, with many wave riders devoting their whole presence to getting barrelled. Different terms utilized rather than barreled are pitted, tubed, slotted, or kegged.


Indo is short for is considered the best surfing spot on the planet. With an awesome atmosphere and epic waves for all expertise levels. Additionally a minimal effort of living and some extraordinary amusement and feasting alternatives. Additionally, the; location of our Bali Cliff and Bali Padang offers surf camps.


The subsequent stage up from clearing out is being ragdolled. By which you are swung around under that water by an incredible wave subsequent to tumbling off. Refers to the way that you have no influence over your limps while you're being washed around, just like a ragdoll.


This is the broken segment of a wave. Customarily, this is the thing that amateurs paddle into when they are first beginning. A whitewash has less energy than the pocket of a wave.


This is a term surfers use for a wetsuit. Accessible in various thicknesses and diverse leg/arm distance. For surfing in freezing conditions or places with cold water, for example, Portugal.


The slang term for a bombora, which is the Aboriginal name for a lowered stone or reef rack found some good distance from the shore. Use it for when you need to talk like a surfer at a serious level.


This term is utilized when discussing whether you're confronting a wave or have your back to it while surfing. Goofy surfers (right foot forward) for instance would surf on their forehand when riding a lefthanded wave.


Basically, short for Nicaragua. One of three tropical places where Rapture has a surf camp.


A closeout happens when a wave breaks in one long queue as opposed to stripping in areas. They are unrideable and offer no divider to surf on. Closeouts should be avoided, as taking a closeout wave may bring about injury.

Pura Vida

Pura Vida can also mean "Remaining with Rapture and scoring waves like this in Costa Rica"

Pura Vida is an idea in Costa Rican culture that has now become a lifestyle. It is difficult to characterize, yet local people trust it to be a mentality, a feeling and a sentiment of happiness all folded into one. In the event that you truly need to understand what it is, you could generally join our Costa Rica surf camp and experience it firsthand.


Multiple boards structure a quiver. With numerous expert surfers having trembles that contain several surfboards. Understanding what a quiver is can assist you with talking like a surfer if a discussion about surfboards actually emerges.


The very meaning of a stoked surfer. The sentiment of being energized and glad to the point that you can not contain yourself; like being amped or excited. John Florence's #1 word and a foundation expression in the event that you need to talk like a surfer.


Otherwise called a longboard. A mal is commonly 9 – 11 foot long with extraordinary lightness and exceptionally lenient rails. Their size and strength make them the ideal board for apprentice surfers to learn on. A Mal is accessible as delicate tops and in timber, fiberglass or epoxy constructions.


The piece of a wave past the pocket where there is less energy, however, more space for a lateral maneuver.


A demonstration by which surfer B takes off on a wave while surfer A is already on it. In this manner obstructing surfer A from finishing the ride. Viewed as practically unpardonable in surf culture; it very well may be either coincidental or deliberate, however, it's consistently risky. A drop-in can even prompt animosity in the water.

Surfer’s froth

That feeling each novice surfer prepares when they are to take their abilities to the next level. Can likewise be utilized as an action word for example "I’m frothing to try my new board at a Rapture surf camp in Bali".

Swell period

This is the measure of time it takes for two constant wave peaks to go through a decided point. The nature of waves in a given area is to a great extent reliant on the circumstance of sets coming in. Thus the swell period, otherwise called wave span, is basic surf information since it estimates the nature of the forthcoming surf session.


This term is used when a surfer shifts his weight too far back so much so that the surfboard nose lifts up.


This refers to a very early surf session in the morning, usually at first light or at the first break of dawn.

Off the hook

Off the hook is a phrase that is commonly used by surfers when the waves are performing extraordinarily well and perfect for a good surf.

No man’s land

No man’s land exists on the ocean surface too. It is an undesirable region for surfers where they get trapped between the shoreline and a series of oncoming breaking waves. This can make paddling back outside very difficult. If a surfer gets stuck in the No man’s land then the only thing that surfer can do is to wait for a delay between the larger breaking waves and use that as an opportunity to slip back into clear water. Other terms that are used by surfers commonly to describe this situation are Caught inside, White zone or Crash zone.

Double-up wave

A double-up wave is also known as a “Humpback”. It is when two separate waves merge into one. The energy that is developed from the combined waves creates a very large and highly powerful wave. For this reason, a Double-up wave is usually stronger and more dangerous than regular waves. They can be difficult to ride as well.  

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