10 Cool Surfer Slang Words Every Brah Must Know

Man riding wave with orange surfboard

Those who surf know how ridiculously addictive it can be. There’s a certain thrill to surfing that you can’t find in any other sport. The feeling of walking on water, riding those magnificent waves, it’s hard to express it in words. It’s something you have to experience to understand. The funny thing is, however, that most surfers only ride a wave for an average of 6 seconds at most. And some wait an eternity before they find that perfect wave they’ve been looking for. This never-ending cycle of waiting for waves and then entering a state of natural high after perfectly riding one can easily become an obsession you can’t get rid of. And before you know it, you’re part of the cool surfers club, one hand slung across your cool surfboard, spewing out surfer slang like a pro.

Surfer lingo is commonly used by both professional and amateur surfers alike. Rich with diverse phrases, expressions, and surfer words, surf speak has grown in popularity to the point where several surfer words have become widely used in everyday life too. Surf speak is ever-evolving, with new and creative surfer words enriching surfer lingo day by day. The terminology in surf lingo is simple but exclusive to the surfing world alone. Outsiders might be at a complete loss when it comes to understanding surf lingo. Here’s a list of 10 cool surfer slang words that every brah must know.

1. Brah

Blue and white house surrounded by surfboards during daytime
Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Surfer dude slang for referring to a brother or friend. Hang out a few days with surfers and you’re sure to pick this slang surfer word up along with a bunch of unique hand gestures unique to the surfing world like the Shaka Brah (the shaka brah is a hand gesture commonly used by surfers to wave to fellow surfers).

Brah is a surfer dude slang that surfers use when referring to a fellow-surfer. So, instead of using each other’s names, you’ll hear them addressing each other simply as brah. Weird, right? But that’s pretty much how surfer lingo works – there are lots of unique words that absolutely make no sense to those not part of the surfing world.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“Look at that wave, brah.”

2. Dawn Patrol

Surfer in wave
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

To go surfing at the break of dawn or mostly, before sunrise. There’s no surfer who hasn’t dawn patrolled in his/her surfing career! What’s cool about this surfer lingo is that it makes surfing before sunrise almost seem like a secret detective mission. To an outsider, the surfer word dawn patrol will sound almost foreign; perhaps they might even mistake it for a military term used by soldiers. And we couldn’t blame them. To be fair, this surfer slang term does have a mysterious ring to it.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“I’m going for some dawn patrol, save me some breakfast!”

3. Beach Break

Woman carrying surfboard
Photo by Debora Cardenas on Unsplash

When waves break on a sandy beach. This surfer slang term is a little more technical than the almost funny surfer slang we’ve been looking at so far. Surfers may use the term beach break when they want to point out a specific type of wave that breaks on the sandy beach. This type of wave is perfect for surfing. So, the term beach break is definitely some high-end surfer lingo you’re likely to pick up when hanging out amongst surfers.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“I’d be lucky if I get a beach break, brah. Riding that wave on my cool surfboard, that’s the dream.”

4. Clamshell

People wearing black wetsuits in body of water
Photo by Guy Kawasaki on Unsplash

When the lip section in from the surfer doesn’t break smoothly, but instead chomps down suddenly, eating up the surfer in the process. Surfers usually dread this condition and this surfer slang perfectly describes the feeling of being eaten up by the wave. Surfer lingo is full of words like this that perfectly describe certain situations when out on the waves. Just imagine riding a wave on your cool surfboard only to be engulfed by the water completely – what a bummer.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“He’s riding pretty well; I hope he doesn’t get clam-shelled”.

5. Ripping

Assorted-color surfboards near shores
Photo by Mohsen Ben Cheikh on Unsplash

Maneuvering a wave with some drastic moves on the surfing board. Surfer lingo simply isn’t complete without this term. If you see a surfer doing some really cool maneuvers out on the waves, you could say they’re ripping it. Basically, this surfer slang word means that a surfer is surfing really well.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“Check out Jason, he’s really ripping it out there today”.

6. Lay Back

Man and woman holding surfboards
Photo by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash

Another technical surfer slang word used to describe a surfing technique where the surfer lays flat on the wave with his back while both his feet are planted firmly on the surfboard. Recovering from this position may is a challenge but the wave itself does take care of pushing you back up in standing position on the surfboard.

So, this technique is actually pretty suited for taking epic surfing photos that you could late show off. Surfer lingo and surfer slang are rich with more technical words like these and the surfer slang word lay back is something you’d definitely want to remember next time you’re out on the beach.

Speaking of which, you’ll find some of the best beaches in Mexico. From Baja California to Oaxaca, there are plenty of good surf spots in Mexico. And these surf spots in Mexico are suitable for both professionals and beginners. So, you could easily enjoy surfing in Mexico whenever you like. Surfing in Mexico is an experience on its own. You can find a list of the best beaches in Mexico to plan your surfing adventure today.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“I think I need more experience on the waves before I attempt a lay back.”

7. Eating It

Man holding white surfboard
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Used when a surfer falls off his surfing board. This surfer slang term is pretty commonly used by surfers to refer to a wipe-out. Beginners might be more familiar with this surfer lingo as it is associated with taking a pounding by falling of your surfing board and hitting the waves. If a surfer uses this surfer slang term, they are basically pointing out how someone fell off their board only to be eaten up by the wave.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“Balance is everything, brah, you don’t want to be the one eating it out on the water.”

8. Goofy Foot

A surfer riding a wave on his surfboard
Photo by Pixabay

Used when a surfer places their right leg forward while surfing. Talk about funny surfer slang, this term in surfer lingo is sure to get outsiders smiling. But those belonging to the surfers club know that this surfer slang term is hardly funny at all. It’s used to refer to a surfer (usually left-handed) who places his right leg forward while surfing. Now, as funny as it may seem, the term describes the situation perfectly as the surfer awkwardly uses his right leg for balance over the waves.

Surfer slang is rich with confusing terms like goofy foot. If you happen to come across a surfer slang crossword, be sure to try goofy foot out. Surfer slang crossword puzzles will become a whole lot easier to solve once you have a plethora of weird surfer slang terms like goofy foot up your sleeves.

Say it like a surfer pro:

“Look at that surfer go, he sure has a goofy foot.”

9. Grommet

Person carrying surfboard on mud during daytime
Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

A newbie in the surfing world or someone who does not know how to surf. Surfer lingo is rich with words about newbies and inexperienced surfers. Beginners may find this term particularly useful as they’ll definitely be hearing it a lot upon first joining the surfing world. If you’re someone new who has been called to surf or someone who just doesn’t know how to surf, grommet might be a term in surfer lingo that more advanced surfers might use to refer to you. Sometimes, complete beginners like young children may be called to surf and practice on the waves and this term may be used to refer to them.

It may even be used for someone who has been surfing for a while but still lacks experience – grommet is a perfect surfer slang term to use for this situation.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“I remember my grommet days; I barely knew how to hold the surfboard.”

10. Duck Dive

Man holding yellow and black surfboard near sea
Photo by Rahul Anand on Unsplash

A condition where the surfer is able to pass through a wave without being washed towards the shore. This term falls under the rather technical surfer lingo arena. A surfer may use this surfer lingo when talking about someone who has a really good surfing balance and who manages to get through the waves without being eaten up.

Say it like a pro surfer:

“Did you see that guy do a duck dive? That was sick”.


And there you have it! Surfer lingo is rich with whacky terms like the ones we’ve listed above. Even if you’re a complete beginner or perhaps a seasoned surfer, it’s never too late to become fluent in surf speak. Who knows? You might even impress a person or two.

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