How to Speak Surfer Dude

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When the first Surfin'ary came out nine years ago, many folks assumed it was a mere glossary. But the new edition is a 362-page tome, boasting more than 3,000 definitions. There are 25 pages alone devoted to words beginning s-u-r-f, including "surflets" (emotions only those who take waves can understand).

Hey Ma, Hey Bro

Long ago, words like "gnarly," "rad," and "dweeb" moved inland, where they're now used by millions of channel-surfing couch potatoes.

Cyber surfers, be aware: Cralle defines "Ego surfing" as looking up your own name on the Web.

As these waterborne words creep ashore, there's a danger that their original meaning will be lost.

Gnarly means "treacherous." An acceptable synonym is "hairy." Surf punks use gnarly to refer to any wave over two feet or any woman of prodigious size. Still, you may refer to a man or woman of great importance as "Your Gnarlyness."

A dude is "a surf enthusiast." It's especially handy at a beer-soaked clambake when you can't remember someone's name.

Remember, this all-purpose word has various permutations: "Hey, Dude," (hello) "Yo, Dooooed," (familiar hello) and "Killer, dude!" (awesome). A woman is a "dudette."

The number of guys at a particular party is the "dude factor." And responsible dudes always carries a "dude pack" (condoms).

A "hodad" is a person who never goes in the water but acts and dresses as if he does. A "brodad" is a "hodad" who further irritates surfers by calling everyone "bro" — including his mom.

"Totally tubular" is totally out. It was once used to describe a perfect, curled wave. But surfers may still occasionally say they're going to "Hang 10" (to hang so far up the board that all your toes are hanging off). That word is so out, it's now in.

A Lesson in Surfspeak

Putting it all together to become a real surf dude or dudette takes a while. Cralle was 14 in 1974, when he first challenged the waves off Santa Cruz, Calif., and he's tasted waves all over the world.

"It's just like any language," Cralle says. "If you know just know a few words in French and you overuse then, you are going to sound like a tourist."