Surf Vocabulary

Here’s a list of well-known terms you may encounter on this website.

Aerial – a surf maneuver where a surfer hits the crest of the wave and flies through the air

A-frame – a wave peak breaking left and right with perfect shape

Aloha – a Hawaiian greeting that means “hello” or “goodbye”

Backside – when a surfer rides with his back to the wave

Bail – an evasive maneuver activated when a surfer is caught inside or when he is about to wipeout

Barrel – the tube, the curl of the wave

Beach break – waves that break over sandbars

Bodysurf – the sport of riding waves the body and swim fins

Carve – a sharp turn on the wave face

Chandelier – water falling at a barrel opening threatening the tube rider

Closeout – when a wave breaks all at once, with no shape or shoulder

Crest – the top and highest point of a wave

Cutback – a turn performed on the flats or in the shoulder of the wave, in order to get the surfer back on the surf line

Dawn patrol – early morning surf session

Deck – the top of the surfboard

Ding – a crack, hole or fracture in a surfboard

Drop in – to get in the right of way of a surfer who is already riding a wave

Drop – the moment after paddling in and standing up, just before the first turn of the wave face

Duck Diving – the technique of pushing the surfboard under and through a breaking wave

Foam – whitewater

Goofy foot – a surfer who rides waves with his right leg forward

Gun – a big surfboard for riding big waves; see the surfboards section

Inside – the area where waves end, as opposed to outside

Leash – the cord that attaches a surfboard to the surfer

Line-up – the spot in the ocean where surfers line up to catch waves, just behind the breaking zone

Lip – the curling part of a wave

Longboard – the longest surfboard; see the surfboards section

Neoprene – an ultra stretchy rubber made from melted-down petroleum chips used to make wetsuits

Offshore wind – wind blowing from the shore out to the ocean, holding the curl line and smoothing the wave face

Onshore wind – wind blowing from the ocean toward shore, destroying the quality of waves

Outline – the shape of a surfboard from nose to tail

Outside – the line-up are, as opposed to inside

Pop-up – the quick move a surfer makes to rise to a standing position when taking off on a wave

Quiver – the number/collection of surfboards owned by a surfer

Reef break – a wave that breaks over rock or coral

Rip – to surf very well

Rocker – the curve of the surfboard bottom from nose to tail viewed from the side

Reflection – when a wave strikes a hard object and bounces some of its energy off into another direction

Shaper – a surfboard designer and producer

Shore break – the area where the ocean waves meet the beach

Shortboard – a small surfboard, see the surfboards section

Soup – the broken foam of a wave

Stance – the surfer’s feet position on a surfboard

Swell – energy powered by strong winds which produces wave trains

SUP – stand up paddleboard

Take-off – the start of a wave ride

Tube – the hollow interior of a wave, also known as barrel

Wave height – the difference between the elevations of a crest and a neighboring trough

Wave period – the time between two consecutive wave crests

Wave train – a group of swells of similar wavelengths

Wavelength – the distance between the crest of one wave to the crest of the next wave

Wedge – a steep wave

Wetsuit – a garment made of neoprene which provides thermal insulation

Wipeout – an unexpected fall off a surfboard while surfing a wave, or surf accident