Now, sure, a bunch of our readers live for getting barreled on the reg, but many more of you are prone to simply watch admiringly from the sidelines. And there’s nothing wrong with that—surfing, while fantastically rewarding, is a dangerous sport that requires gnarly amounts of skill and dedication.
If you’re content to watch but want to brush up on the terminology, or if you’re ready to finally go out there and get slotted, here’s a little Surfing Lingo 101 for ya. (Consider this a beginner’s crash course!)
Oh, and if you haven’t already, be sure to peep our Skateboarding Lingo 101 and Snowboarding Lingo 101 guides!
Surfing Lingo 101
1. Barrel/tube/keg/pit — The hollow part of the wave where it’s breaking. The “pit,” specifically, is often used to refer to the bottommost part of the barrel.
2. Frothing — To be totally amped up for the wave. “I was frothing for that wave, man.”
3. Getting barreled/getting tubed/slotted/getting pitted/getting shacked — Per the above, it means getting encapsulated by the wave—locked into the kickass barrel. You’re surrounded by the hollow shape the wave has created in a series of moments that surfers find euphoric. There are a number of variations on the phrase with one of the more energetic uses being “getting pitted,” as made famous in this 2002 video by Micah Peasley:4. Grommet/grom — A young surfer.
5. Groundswell — Generally the most powerful of waves that have traveled the furthest distance to shore due to their generation far offshore. These lie in contrast to windswell waves.
6. Hang Ten — Probably the most famous surfing phrases of all. It refers to hanging all ten toes off the front of the board.
7. Impact Zone — The area where the waves first break.
8. Kook — A novice, usually lacking proper surfing etiquette. Also known as a Barney.
9. Lip —The top part of the wave where it’s beginning to break. Also known as the crest.
10. Mushy — A wave that breaks in a weak or uninspiring fashion.
11. Over the Falls — Wiping out by going from the top of the wave to the bottom in dramatic fashion.
12. Pearl — When the nose of the board gets driven down into the waves.
13. Point Break — The area where waves form around an island or some obstruction in the water that juts out from the mainland. Also a famous movie starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves:
14. Prone Out — Pulling out of the wave by lying down flat on the surfboard.
15. Ripping — Surfing at your best; simply kicking ass.
16. Trim — Gliding across the face of the wave.
17. Washing machine/rag dolled — Getting violently spun underwater by a wave.