a surfer catching a big wave that is barelling

Surfing Terminology and Understanding the Surf Jargon

These surfing terms and jargons are worth remembering

Australia is one of the top surfing destinations on the globe. The sheer range of waves available here is so great that an avid surfer will need some time to explore them all. One side of the continent is dominated by the Pacific Ocean, the other by the Indian Ocean, and below that is the Southern Ocean, which is a swell generator. Australia is basically a surfer’s paradise.

It's little wonder that surfing in Australia is popular with locals, whether in the milder waters of the east coast or the frigid south coast sea. It has over 10,000 beaches throughout the country, and monster waves break almost all of them.

Australia has the second-largest surfing population in the world after the United States. In fact, the Gold Coast in Queensland has the most surfers per capita anywhere in the world. Surfing in Australia is the perfect option for people seeking a vacation where they can ride waves. But aside from learning where the great surfing spots are and some basic surfing etiquette, aspiring or beginner surfers should also be aware of surfing terminologies and what they mean.

Surf Slangs Every Aspiring Surfer Should Know

Are you planning to surf soon? It would be cool to know some common terms related to surfing.

Here are some popular surfing terminologies beginner surfers should know to blend in with the crowd.


When the wave encloses the surfer inside it, it is referred to be a tube. It is the sport's most coveted manoeuvre. It's also known as the green room, a pit, a barrel, or a keg.

Tube riding refers to riding well inside this barrel. The surfer speeds through a tunnel of water inside the "green room," and the only way out is to go straight through the gap in front. A hollow wave is the most powerful type of breaking wave, and proficient tube surfing is heaps challenging. It needs great timing, expertise, and skill.

Leg Rope / Leggie

In America, the string that secures the board to the surfer’s leg so that it will not stray is referred to as a leash. In Australia, it is referred to as "leg rope" or a leggie. Surfers in Australia should remember this in case they need one. It is an essential surfing equipment that keeps the surfer constantly connected to his surfboard all the time. It helps prevent the board from getting away from the surfer and bringing harm to other people in the water. It’s like the surfer’s seatbelt.

Leg ropes come in various thicknesses and lengths, and the choice depends on the surfing conditions and type of waves. It is attached to the surfer’s calf with a strap or a cuff and is connected to the surfboard’s tail. It is particularly useful in the event of a wipeout, ensuring that the surfer stays close to his board.


A young child who enjoys surfing the waves is known as a grommet. Australia has a vibrant surfing scene, particularly among young people. Also known as grom or gremmie, the term is used to refer to an inexperienced surfer.

kids surfing on a beach


Being called a kook does not mean that the surfer is crazy. A kook is a beginner, a surfer with low-level skill or poor technique. Every surfer starts with being a kook, and there is nothing wrong with it.

Men in Grey Suits

No, they are not businessmen riding a surfboard. Men in grey suits is an Australian slang used to refer to sharks. While most sharks are said to be more afraid of humans, staying out of the water when they are near will still be wise. When sharks are sighted, the safer and more practical option is to head back to shore and wait for them to pass.


One of the things that surfers and beachgoers should look out for is a rip or a riptide. A rip is a section of swiftly moving water that carries surfers and swimmers far out to sea. Rips can be deadly and are brought on by two currents colliding. They are strong currents that are created when waves crash on shallow sandbars and then drive water back out to sea through channels that are deeper.

A surfer caught in one should not panic at all costs. Instead of swimming against the current, swim parallel to the coast. It gets more hazardous when one fights a rip.

riptide on a beach


Used positively in surfing slang, the term means something amazing or beyond normal. The word dates back to the 1950s and became huge in the 1980s.


It is more than a popular apparel brand. Billabong refers to a body of water formed when a river changes its course or a watering hole.


The term aggro is used to describe aggressive surfers. It can be used to refer to either the surfer or the surfing done.

Dawn Patrol

Surfing dawn patrol refers to surfing early morning, specifically at the crack of dawn. Surfers get to try their hand at surfing waves while the conditions are probably at their best. In the early mornings, the wind is the calmest, providing ideal surfing conditions. Soon after sunrise, the wind begins to build up, causing the water to chop.

Out the Back

Out the back or outside refers to the area beyond the breaking waves or the impact zone.

Here are other surf slangs that are also worth noting.

  • Boardies – Boardshorts
  • Rashie – Rash Guard
  • Steamer – A full wetsuit that covers the arms and legs.
  • Rippin’ – When one surfs well.
  • Impact Zone – Where the waves break and hit the hardest.
  • Aerial – A surfing motion in which a surfer purposefully strikes the peak of the wave and releases a large amount of air.

Visit Slimes Newcastle For Your Surfing Gear 

Slimes Newcastle has been in the business for over a decade. We have surfboards, wetsuits, accessories, and apparel for men and women of all ages. Visit us and let us help you gear up for your surfing journey.

For enquiries, call us on 02 4961 3088 or email newcastlestore@slimes.com.au, and we’ll get back to you.

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