Out in the line-up or on the beach, you’ll probably hear a lot of surf jargon that makes you go, “What does that mean?”
Beyond the terms every surfer should know, there are terms every surfer should know… Part Two: Slang.
The list is endless when it comes to surf-related Slang; as with any sport or activity, every city you could surf probably has its own slang as well. But let’s take a look at some universal surfer slang to add to your arsenal. The next time you’re out, you might pick out some of these!
Kook – n.
“That guy dropped in on me twice. What a kook.”
This is probably the most universal and well-recognized slang word in surfing. A kook is someone who typically poses as someone who surfs when in fact they don’t know what they’re doing in the water and making a fool of themselves in the process.
They may be careless, unaware, disrespectful, or flat-out rude. A kook may drop in on other surfers, get in people’s way, or just talk expertly about surfing with nothing to back it up.
The simplest way to avoid being called a kook when learning to surf is to respect the ocean and the people, avoid conditions that you cannot handle, and do not brag or act like you know everything about surfing.
This word has picked up a lot of traction on the internet; so much so that there are accounts dedicated to the comedic and disdainful antics of kooks, like @kookoftheday and @kookslams on Instagram.
Remember – don’t be a kook!
Aggro – adj.
“I don’t like that spot, it’s always crowded and aggro.”
Aggro comes from the word aggressive and refers to the aggressive and territorial nature of people or even particular surf spots.
Aggro people can be people who always fight for positioning to catch every wave, and don’t care about sharing the waves. Generally, they give off unwelcoming or unfriendly vibes.
A surf spot can be described as aggro too if it is populated with aggressive people like this. (Another less common related: eggy, meaning someone who gets pissed off easily in the water or is very unwelcoming).
As with anything, it can be challenging to know how to deal with aggressive people in line ups. If you are a beginner, it is best to avoid spots with reputation of being aggressive, as you probably won’t have as much fun or get as much practice on the wave.
Psyched, stoked, amped – v.
Words of happiness or excitement.
The following words are used by surfers to express excitement about surfing. Whether it’s before, during, or after the surf session, these words are communicators of joy.
These are verbs, so you can hear a number of different structures of the words. A few examples: “I’m stoked to get out there,” “I was amping on that last wave,” “I’m so psyched off that session!”
Regulate – v.
“That guy is a regulator out here, he’s probably going to say something to this kook.”
This is obviously an English word that can be applied in surfing. Regulate means to control, instruct, or manage the surf spot.
A regulator is someone who gets the crowd under control by weeding out people that are causing a disturbance or posing harm to others through their lack of ability.
Grom – n.
“All the groms were out ripping today.”
Grom is a term that refers to young, kid surfers.
Nug or nugget – n.
“You caught a nice nug.”
A good wave, typically over head high.
Shacked – v.
“I got so shacked on that last wave.”
Shacked is a term used to mean riding a good barrel that goes for a long time.
This happens when you take off really deep on the wave and get in the barrel early. Another word that can be heard is “pitted.”
Ragdolled – v.
“It took me so long to get back out, I got ragdolled by that wave.”
To get ragdolled is to receive a proper beat down as a result of wiping out.
As the name implies, it happens when you get so thrown around under the water that your body becomes like a ragdoll.
You have no control of your arms or legs underwater and are victim to the wave and wherever it takes you until you can reach the surface again.
Another related term is “worked,” if one gets severely beaten down after wiping out. The proper construction would be like, “I got so worked,” meaning you were thrown down and tossed around beneath the surface.
Claim – v., n.
“He made it out of the barrel and claimed it.”
Claim means to celebrate your performance on a wave, displaying physical motions or gestures, like pumping your fist in the air, for example.
It is similar to a victory dance in the end zone of an American football field. If you’ve ever watched surfing contests, you probably have seen someone “claim” a wave when he or she successfully exits a barrel. It usually happens when the surfer has an exceptional ride. You might also hear “claim” used as a noun, like “Nice claim,” referring to the action done in claiming the wave.
Uncle – n.
This is a word specifically used in Hawaii, and is used to mean an older male surfer.
People in Hawaii are very ‘ohana (family) oriented and it is common to refer to elders by “uncle” and “aunty,” in everyday circumstances (in surfing, however, “uncle” is used more commonly than “aunty”).
If you are surfing in Hawaii, it is especially important to respect the uncles in the water! They have likely been surfing that exact spot for years, decades even, longer than you have.
Which of these words were new to you? This only scratches the surface (no pun intended), and we’d love to hear some popular slang not included on this list!
Keep in mind, again, that there are countless more slang terms depending on where you live and what language you speak!
What are some other slang terms in surfing? Leave us a comment.