Familiarize Yourself with These Surfing Terms

Surfing has its own language, and understanding specific terms is imperative to a safe and smooth ride. Before paddling out, be sure to know at least a handful of these important terms.

Air/aerial: riding the board into the air and then landing back on the wave.

Caught inside: a surfer who cannot get through the surf to reach the wider ocean.

Carve: a turn.

Closeout: A wave or large section of a wave that breaks at the same time, making it impossible to surf the open face.

Cutback: a turn back toward the breaking wave.

Deep: The steepest part of the shoulder closest to the peak of a wave.

Down the line: Along the face of the wave.

Drop in: the act of entering the wave.

Duck dive: A technique used to paddle out past a breaking wave. Use your arms to push the nose of the surfboard down while the knee pushes town on the tail.

Face: The open, unbroken part of a wave.

Goofy foot: standing with your left foot in the back.

Green wave: An open wave which allows the surfer to ride along the face.

Grom/Grommet: a young surfer.

Hang ten: putting five toes over the nose; also see “hang five.”

Hang loose: the meaning of the classic surfer hand signal (thumb and pinkie up, middle three fingers down); means either “catch that wave” or “well done.”

Kick out: To end your ride by surfing out the wave.

Kook: unskilled surfer wannabe.

Lineup: The area where waves normally begin breaking. This is the place where surfers sit on their boards to wait for rides.

Off the hook: refers to a good surf spot.

Over the falls: when a surfer falls off and is carried in a circular motion by the wave lip.

Peak: The immediately breaking part of the wave.

Pearl: accidentally pushing the nose underwater.

Pop-up: jumping up on the board from a lying-down position.

Re-entry: hitting the lip and dropping back into the wave.

Shoulder: The unbroken section of the wave directly next to the peak.

Snake: a surfer who steals a wave from another surfer.

Stall: to slow down by shifting weight or putting your hand in the water.

Switchfoot: being able to surf regular foot or goofy foot.

Tube riding: riding within the curl of a wave.

Turtle roll: A technique used to paddle a board past a breaking wave. The surfer turns upside-down and propels the surfboard through the breaking wave.

Wipe Out: a surfing accident; immortalized in the Surfaris 1963 song of the same name.