Like any avocation, surfing has developed its own slang over time. Some of it is venerable and well-planted in the American idiom. Terms like “wahine”, “kahuna”, and “wipe-out” have been heard and, at least partially, understood by many. However, there are more examples that are either specific to a particular surf beach or are so transient that they don’t survive for more than a season. The last time I was on the West Coast, I was speaking to a surfer who was bringing me up to date on the local patois.
Surfer: See that?
Surfer: That move the dude just did.
Me: No. What was it?
Surfer: It was like a 360, but with a flair. It was a roundabout fandoozie.
Surfer: Now check that. That’s an acetone shorts.
Me: It’s an acetone…?
Surfer: Shorts. ‘Cause he went so fast, see?
Me: No, I don’t think I….
Surfer: Now check the cavefish over there. He’s about to porpoise.
Me: Wait, I know what it is to "porpoise". He’s riding up the wave instead of down, right?
Surfer: Right. Watch him launch.
Me: But, what’s a cavefish?
Surfer: He is, ‘cause he’s so white. See, he’s a fishbelly.
Surfer: Man, I did this porpoise once. I just blasted off like a space shuttle. I called it a “moon porpoise”.
Me: “Moon”? Because you were heading for the moon?
Surfer: Nah, I lost my board shorts about half way up the wave.
[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved© 2011]