8 Confusing Aussie Surf Slang Phrases Translated

8 Confusing Aussie Surf Slang Phrases Translated

15 June 2018


Surfing is pretty much like a religion around Australia’s beaches, this means it’s probably a good idea to brush up on your slang so you’re not left behind when you’re catching the waves at Spot X. Grommet, Leggie, Frothin’? We don’t want you getting confused, so we’ve brought you a kooks guide to surfer slang.  


1. Grommet


Grommet - Surfer Slangs

We’re not talking about the cheese loving Walace and Gromit, and we’re definitely not talking about those little metal or rubber things you put in holes. A Grommet is simply a young kid that loves riding the waves. Australia has a great surfing culture, especially among kids.

Example: “Wow mate, that grommet is ripper”. 


2. Kook


Kook - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to CXpress

Most people out there will be called a Kook. That (probably) doesn’t mean they think you’re crazy - simply put it means you are just a beginner. Nothing wrong with that though, we all have to start somewhere.

Example: “Look, the kooks are learning to stand up on the sand”.  


3. Leggie

Leggie - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to SurferToday

Funnily enough this actually has something to do with legs. A Leggie what Aussies love to call the leg rope that attaches the surfer to the board. This is both a board-saver and a lifesaver. Think of like a seatbelt for the surf.

Example: “I bought a new leggie the other day, the old one was on its last legs”.


4. Frothin’

Frothin - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to Surf Girl Mag

We’re not talking about a quality pint, or a surfer with a small case of rabies, Frothin is another word for excited. It’s actually used around Australia, in and out of the surf.

Example: “I am frothin for a surf today”. 

This guy was definitely frothing the waves.


5. Man In a Grey Suit

Man In a Grey Suit - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to Carbon Brief

Hopefully you won’t be spotting either a businessman in a grey suit, or a man in the grey suit (AKA a shark) whilst on the beach. If you do, don’t imagine it to be like Jaws - most are more scared of you than you are of it. But that doesn’t mean you should hang out in the waves, be careful, head back to the beach and wait for it to pass.

Example: “I saw a man in the grey suit at Bells Beach the other day”.


6. Rip/Riptide

Rip/Riptide - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to Aquabumps

A Rip, is a stretch of fast moving water which takes swimmers and surfers out to sea. (It’s also a pretty good song by Aussie, Vance Joy) Rips can be dangerous and are caused by two meeting currents. If you get stuck in one, DO NOT PANIC! Swim parallel to the shore and not against the current. The more you fight it, the more dangerous it becomes. Here’s more info on how to get out of a rip.

Example: “Probably best to be careful in that area, there’s a rip over there”.

 7. Out The Back (otherwise known as OTB or Outside)

Out The Back (otherwise known as OTB or Outside)

Image thanks to SurferToday

Where a surfer waits just behind the lineup to catch an earlier wave. Often they’ll let everyone know as the wave approaches.

Example: “Look behind ya, those guys are going out the back.”


8. Whitewash

Whitewash - Surfer Slangs, Surfer Phrases

Image thanks to GIFY

This one’s actually pretty simple. Whitewash (or whitewater) is a foamy white colour the ocean makes when the wave breaks.

Example: “I caught a big wave this arvo and almost got knocked off by all the whitewash”.


Now that your sick surf vocab is up to scratch, you’ve started your journey from absolute kook to pro surfer. If you’re ready to hit the waves, Backpackers World has some ripper tour deals in Australia you will froth if you’re looking to get some surfing action.