17 Words That Mean Something Completely Different To Surfers

You know you're a surfer when eating shit doesn't literally mean eating shit....

surfer slang – What they really mean

Surfer slang: a type of speech that sometimes makes you wonder if you’re even speaking the same language. Sometimes it’s like surfers really do have their own. You could sit there, as a non-surfer, for hours and hours not understanding what the hell these bearded dudes in boardies are banging on about.

We’ve already taken a look at snowboard and mountain bike lingo, so we thought it was about time to delve in the complex semantics of surfer slang.

1. Big Gun

What it means to the general public: Errrrr…. a really big gun, the kind Americans have a certain fondness for.

What it means to surfers: A mega surfboard, usually around 10ft long, used by mad men like Shane Dorian to tackle the biggest waves in world.

“Now that’s one big gun Shane Dorian’s got there…”


2. Caught Inside

What it means to the general public: Generally locked up, whether it’s in prison, house arrest or as a result of locking yourself in your own house from… the inside

What it means to surfers: When a huge wave breaks just in front and you helplessly try to duck dive beneath it. A surfer’s worst nightmare.

“Oh shit! Chuck just got caught on the inside…”


3. Chinese Wax Job

What it means to the general public: Something dodgy that tourists get up to when visiting brothels in Hong Kong.

What it means to surfers: When surf wax gets stuck to the bottom of your surfboard and you look like a kook.

“Looks like your board got a Chinese wax job, mate!”


4. Corduroy

What it means to the general public: Defined as “a thick cotton fabric with velvety ribs”.  Used to be fashionable in the 1970s. Now more commonly worn by golfers and pompous middle-aged men.

What it means to surfers: Perfect blue glassy waves stretching into the distance, rolling towards the shore in neat lines.

“Have you checked Magic Seaweed this morning? Corduroy lines as far as the eye can see!”


5. Ding

What it means to the general public: The sound of a bell or one half of the signal that indicates the Wicked Witch is dead.

What it means to surfers: When some douchebag bashes into you while surfing and dents your board – it’s known as a ding.

“My mate borrowed my board and it’s come back with a ding! I’m gonna kill ‘im…”


6. Drainer

What it means to the general public: Something which you place your plates into after washing them up. Alternatively, a person who cleans drains.

What it means to surfers: A gnarly wave that sucks the water off a shallow bottom (often reef), bowls up and barrels.

“Fuck, did you see Kelly take on that giant Teahupoo drainer?”


7. Eat Shit

What it means to the general public: The act of eating human faeces, like Bear Grylls here.

What it means to surfers: The absolute worst wipeout a surfer can possibly imagine. Often as a result of going head first over the falls and looking like a tool in front of one’s mates.

“Oooooff, that dude just ate shit!”

For more fecal fun, check out 17 Disgusting Things Bear Grylls Has Done That No Human Being Should Ever Have To Do


8. Goofy

What it means to the general public: A tall, anthropomorphic cartoon dog created by Walt Disney in 1932.

What it means to surfers: Surfing with your right foot forward, like a mofo.

“Some say it feels way more natural to surf left-handers when you’re goofy”


9. Pitted

What it means to the general public: A form of olive that has the stone removed or something with lots of dents in, usually the faces of acne-ridden teenage boys.

What it means to surfers: Getting pitted is what every surfer aspires towards, slotting themselves neatly inside a barreling wave.

“Dude, I got totally pitted just then!”


10. Logger

What it means to the general public: Somebody who chops wood into logs, wears a red checked shirt and ponders the question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one was around to hear it…”

What it means to surfers: A surfer that rides a longboard – and as a result is a total badass.

“This break is a loggers’ heaven”


11. Men In Grey Suits

What it means to the general public: Errrr…. a man in a grey suit?

What it means to surfers: Sharks. The terrifying surfer eaters of the oceans. It’s got an ominous sound to it, doesn’t it? Like the TV licensing man or debt collector.

“Dude, I definitely saw some men in grey suits out this morning”


12. Out Back

What it means to the general public: That place where you keep the wheelie bins or the barren landscape of the Australian Outback.

What it means to surfers: The spot beyond the breaking waves, free from screaming children and irritating bodyboarders, where you wait for the waves to roll in.

“See you out back!”


13. Slab

What it means to the general public: A big heavy wad of something, like concrete paving, that’s way too heavy to lift and puts old people’s backs out.

What it means to surfers: A fookin’ gnarly wave. Well, it’s technically a very steep, powerful wave that breaks over a shallow reef or rock shelf.

“Man, I’ve been surfing that slab for years…”


14. Snake

What it means to the general public: A long limbless reptile which has no eyelids, a short tail, and jaws that are capable of considerable extension. Tends to scare people, namely Indiana Jones and small children in zoos.

What it means to surfers: A dickhead who drops in and steals other people’s waves.

“Chuck is always snaking people out”


15. Soup

What it means to the general public: A liquid dish, typically savoury and made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables in stock or water.

What it means to surfers: The whitewater, the bit you don’t want to get caught up in, if you can help it. (We’re very curious as to how this made its way into the surfer slang)

“The guy over there just ended up in the soup!”


16. Stoke

What it means to the general public: To fuel something flammable (like a fire) or an argument, alternatively to stuff your gob with lots of food for energy.

What it means to surfers: Total, unparalleled excitement and/or joy, felt particularly after catching a wave.

“Dude, did you see me catch that last wave? I’m totally stoked!”


17. Turtle Roll

What it means to the general public: Some sort of delicious but totally illegal Japanese sushi dish.

What it means to surfers: When your board is too heavy to duck dive, you roll it upside down and cling on for dear life while the wave washes over you. Probably one of our favourite surfer slang.

“If you’re struggling to get your longboard out back man, try doing a turtle roll!”


Got anymore surfer slang that you think should make it into this list? Let us know!


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