Since the early days of the sport, surfers have had their own language. In many cases, they've invented or repurposed existing words to describe waves and surf conditions. To the layman, many of these terms make absolutely no sense when taken out of context, but to any surfer, the words listed below have simple and specific meanings.

Here's a quick reference guide for any of you who are confused and/or curious as to what the hell the dude is talking about when he says, "I thought it was pumping, but after watching a few sets roll in, I downgraded it to piping and eventually settled for nuggable."

Macking

Mark Healy on a macking wave at Jaws. Photo: Brent Bielmann/Surfing Magazine

Mark Healy on a macking wave at Jaws. Photo: Bielmann/Surfing

Definition: A term for describing giant waves, mostly reserved for describing extra-large and quite rare swell events.
Example: "It was easily 50-foot throughout the morning at Jaws; even the locals get scared when it's macking like that."

Pumping

Makua Rothman drives down the line at pumping Pipeline. Photo: Brent Bielmann/Surfing Magazine

Makua Rothman drives down the line at pumping Pipeline. Photo: Bielmann/Surfing

Definition: Slightly smaller than macking, but very consistent and with ample amounts of power in the waves and swell.
Example: "Mate, I went down to Snapper Rocks and just after the cyclone the surf was pumping for 10 hours straight!"

Firing

Josh Kerr finds a firing little left in Australia. Photo: Corey Wilson/Surfing Magazine

Josh Kerr finds a firing little left in Australia. Photo: Wilson/Surfing

Definition: Very, very good surf—maybe not huge, but really good shape and quality.
Example: "I got four tubes in the first half hour of that last session. It was absolutely firing out there."

Nugging

Nugging little waves in Florida. Photo: Ruddy/Surfing Magazine

Nugging little waves in Florida. Photo: Ruddy/Surfing

Definition: Small but perfect waves.
Example: "It was only 2- to 3-foot out there, but man, it was nugging at the pier today."

Rippable

Kai Otton blasts an air in some rippable surf. Photo: Corey Wilson/Surfing Magazine

Kai Otton blasts an air in some rippable surf. Photo: Wilson/Surfing

Definition: Fair to above-average waves that might not be perfect, but still are a lot of fun.
Example: "I'm not gonna say it was all-time, but it was super rippable all morning. You should have gone surfing."

Loggable

Small but perfecly logable waves at Noosa in Australia. Photo: Vans/Surfing Magazine

Small but perfectly loggable waves at Noosa in Australia. Photo: Vans/Surfing

Definition: Very small waves best suited for longboarding.
Example: "It's only knee high, but totally loggable out there."

Piping

Doesn't get more piping than this. Photo: Corey Wilson/Surfing Magazine

Doesn’t get more piping than this. Photo: Wilson/Surfing

Definition: Good waves that offer up plenty of opportunity for tube riding.
Example: "I knew it was piping out there when I got totally shacked on my first few waves."

Throttling

Throttling waves at Wiamea Shorebreak. Photo: Brent Bielmann/Surfing Magazine

Throttling waves at Waimea Shorebreak. Photo: Bielmann/Surfing

Definition: Big, powerful waves that have abusive tendencies.
Example: "I got pounded by three set waves in a row! Why didn't you tell me it was throttling out there?!"

Groomed

Nice and groomed in Northern California. Photo: Peter Taras/Surfing Magazine

Nice and groomed in Northern California. Photo: Taras/Surfing

Definition: Clean conditions with nice offshore winds.
Example: "It's 3-foot and perfectly groomed out there. Let's grab our boards and go!"

Ramping

Super ramping. Photo: Peter Taras/Surfing Magazine

Super ramping. Photo: Taras/Surfing

Definition: Waves that are highly conducive to doing airs.
Example: “I haven’t done that many airs in one session in forever! It was totally ramping out there.”

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