Definition of surf in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The mass or line of foam formed by waves breaking on a seashore or reef:

    ‘the roar of the surf’
    • ‘We see the surf pounding on the rocks below in the moonlight as Barnabas continues.’
    • ‘Their maiden rescue saw six volunteers saving a troubled fisherman in rough surf and gale-force wind.’
    • ‘They formed pairs, walking off in individual directions toward the rolling surf.’
    • ‘He paused and listened, and it reminded him of breaking surf.’
    • ‘The idea of sharing Christmas cheer surrounded by warm sands and crashing surf sounded wonderfully alluring.’
    • ‘On the northeast coast, there were reports of massive waves and thundering surf.’
    • ‘The thundering surf around the jutting piers of Pacific Ocean Park is the favoured playground of these washed-out youngsters.’
    • ‘Surrounded by crashing surf, there is no place on its perimeter to land a boat.’
    • ‘The game is played in the surf, in rough surf with decent booming waves.’
    • ‘Then we'd take a swim in the crashing surf before hiking back to our kayaks.’
    • ‘He looks over the pounding surf with an evil smile, and then we hear him thinking.’
    • ‘After that came some reading and napping on the beach and then much frolicking in the rough surf.’
    • ‘All he wants is someplace warm, where palm trees blow in balmy breezes along a gentle, rolling surf.’
    • ‘With a roar of surf, the wave struck the beach and raced inland toward them.’
    • ‘They had come just to watch the surf pounding in here right now.’
    • ‘You'll see one of them disappear under the pounding surf for 8 seconds before resurfacing.’
    • ‘Occasionally, we could hear surf breaking on the reef that surrounded us.’
    • ‘She sat in her chamber, listening to the fall of surf on an interior beach.’
    • ‘We just stand there, listening to the thundering surf.’
    • ‘You hear the pounding surf and see a cluster of cartoonish grass huts sprouting in the distance.’
    foam, froth, surf, spindrift, spray
    View synonyms
  • 2[in singular] A spell of surfing:

    ‘he went for an early surf’
    • ‘I got up early this morning in the hope to have a surf before work - only to find that it was dead flat here at Llandudno.’


  • 1[no object] Stand or lie on a surfboard and ride on a wave towards the shore:

    ‘he's learning to surf’
    • ‘Pat's really short and can fit turns in really quick, like on his first wave where he scored an 8.5 and surfed really well.’
    • ‘I love it here, but I miss my old friends and how I could surf everyday.’
    • ‘The sand is black, it was very hot and sunny and if we had taken a surfboard we could have surfed on the waves.’
    • ‘He had surfed towards the shore, entered the buffer zone on his board, caught another wave, with the consequence that after a couple of seconds he entered the flagged area and then commenced to walk to the shore.’
    • ‘Each team surfs as a group with 4 surfers in the water at a time’
    • ‘We surfed in countless contests and had even more surf sessions from the early 60's until last year.’
    • ‘Anyone who surfs or who has done a significant amount of marine boating experience can relay a story about a rogue wave.’
    • ‘He would explain that he got really bad sunburn while he was surfing at the beach.’
    • ‘Bethany not only made the final, but surfed well, managing to pick off set waves and paddle for position.’
    • ‘The Floridian surfed well, but his Brazilian counterpartmanaged an 8.4 toward the end and swung the lead.’
    • ‘A guy who surfs on his belly did much more than just bruise the ego of one who stands.’
    • ‘After all, a Mayor who surfs, fights to make our waters as clean as possible, and exchanges ideas every morning with Skip Frye is bound to be a good thing.’
    • ‘It is a waste to let good waves be ridden incompetently, so surfers push harder to surf better.’
    • ‘I guess you could say we are a third generation surfing family as my dad surfed in the 1930's in Southern California, I surf, and my son surfs daily.’
    • ‘Have you come to the point where you realize you don't need waves to surf any more?’
    • ‘Usually I struggle to get waves anywhere here - there's always a lot of guys, I prefer not to hassle, and I don't think I deserve to get the best waves because I'm not someone who surfs here all the time.’
    • ‘He looked more like he should be surfing off his native Australian coast.’
    • ‘I was surfing at a beach near Malibu.’
    • ‘When I stayed with my father in Toronto, I used to watch him surf everyday.’
    • ‘It was a little sneaky, but he surfed well and got the score on his last wave.’
    1. 1.1[with object] Ride (a wave) towards the shore on a surfboard:
      ‘he has built a career out of surfing big waves’
      • ‘Then he ceases his paddling and surfs the waves back to the water's edge, over and over again - and even now, in my mind.’
      • ‘The fact that I had never actually seen a wave let alone surfed one was irrelevant.’
      • ‘The next day, with a hangover and a fridge in tow, he proceeded to surf Strandhill's famous waves.’
      • ‘Of course there is also the option that if you can't beat the rain, why not join it by surfing the waves!’
      • ‘‘People who surf mushy waves end up becoming the best surfers,’ says Setterholm.’
      • ‘It's also fast enough to surf standing waves, stable enough to 360 in some holes, and nimble enough to nip into tiny eddies for a break.’
      • ‘That Offaly team was always able to surf the tricky waves, and had a worldliness that this young side couldn't expect to have.’
      • ‘We don't know if we still have it in us to surf the big waves.’
      • ‘With Pipeline in his front yard, Johnson started surfing the legendary wave at age 12, and at 17 was invited to surf in the Pipe Masters competition.’
      • ‘Despite the lack of depth within the graphics engine, I still got the feeling as though I was surfing a massive wave in an exotic location.’
      • ‘The competition was organised by the West Sligo Forum and included some exotic events like surfing the waves at Enniscrone.’
      • ‘Thanks to its flat bottom, the Transformer spins like a top with the slightest of strokes and surfs standing waves as nimbly as a true kahuna.’
      • ‘I see those guys on TV, and they are surfing those huge waves.’
      • ‘We had really gotten into surfing and went there at the end of summer to surf hurricane waves.’
      • ‘Until now, the location of the wave has remained a secret and surfed only by a handful of surfers from the U.S. and Mexico.’
      • ‘She loved surfing the giant waves of the sea and it was her favorite sport.’
      • ‘They can surf the waves, skin a rabbit and dazzle a television audience.’
      • ‘Despite the youthful rites of passage of surfing the Pacific waves, the Lone Star State has fulfilled all his childhood fantasies.’
      • ‘For Slater, his first WCT final of 2004 remained well within grasp until the last wave was surfed.’
      • ‘Hansen spent his summers exploring the grottoes and caves along the coastline, surfing its waves, and playing in the forests on San Simeon Point.’
    2. 1.2informal Ride on the roof or outside of a fast-moving vehicle, typically a train, for excitement:
      ‘he fell to his death while surfing on a 70 mph train’
  • 2[with object] Move from site to site on (the Internet):

    ‘the device allows you to surf the Net and send emails’
    • ‘Time spent playing computer games and surfing the Internet in lieu of playing outside is also contributing to the surge of obesity.’
    • ‘Anyone surfing the Internet for more than a week eventually needs help from someone else.’
    • ‘The allows users to surf the Internet and send e-mails or text messages.’
    • ‘Instead, he surfed the Internet constantly, becoming an accomplished player of computer games.’
    • ‘They sit watching TV, playing computer games and surfing the internet.’
    • ‘I remember a few years back the infamous Yahoo taxi cabs that let you surf the internet (via a ricochet modem).’
    • ‘It seems everybody is demanding increased bandwidth to surf the Internet and transmit data faster.’
    • ‘If you spend any time surfing the Internet, then you've probably encountered several examples of pop-under windows.’
    • ‘They establish connections to an Internet service provider and offer open access for their users to surf the Internet.’
    • ‘Every day, I have the opportunity of surfing the Internet at home while getting my neighbour to pay for it.’
    • ‘Now I'm just surfing the net doing high-speed research for a meeting tomorrow.’
    • ‘If you can surf the internet, you can make VoIP phone calls.’
    • ‘After a few seconds of network initialisation, you have a GPRS link and you can surf the Internet slowly but serviceably.’
    • ‘Basically, I surf the Internet, send a little e-mail, download some music and occasionally work with Microsoft Word.’
    • ‘There are even some providers who will offer free access if you are willing to surf the Internet with numerous pop-ups from their advertisers.’
    • ‘They have a very limited knowledge of security and put their business at risk through using their work computer at home or letting family members surf the internet on their work PC.’
    • ‘A recent poll by Homecall showed that the number one reason people surf the internet is to download music.’
    • ‘At the end of 2000, the area had 6.1 million subscribers surfing the Internet via broadband.’
    • ‘An increasing number of consumers are surfing the Internet and watching TV at the same time.’
    • ‘Simply surfing the Internet, reading email, downloading music or other files can infect your PC without you knowing it.’
    1. 2.1
      another term for channel-surf
      • ‘He channel surfed aimlessly as I stared blankly at the TV.’
      • ‘He was channel surfing again like he always did when he had nothing better to do.’
      • ‘While I was channel surfing, the front door opened and Noah rushed in.’


Late 17th century: apparently from obsolete suff, of unknown origin, perhaps influenced by the spelling of surge.