the act or sport of riding the surf, as on a surfboard.

Origin of surfing

First recorded in 1915–20; surf + -ing1
Also called surfriding.




the swell of the sea that breaks upon a shore or upon shoals.
the mass or line of foamy water caused by the breaking of the sea upon a shore, especially a shallow or sloping shore.

verb (used without object)

to ride a surfboard.
to float on the crest of a wave toward shore.
to swim, play, or bathe in the surf.
to search haphazardly, as for information on a computer network or an interesting program on television.

verb (used with object)

to ride a surfboard on: We surfed every big wave in sight.
to search through (a computer network or TV channels) for information or entertainment.

Origin of surf

First recorded in 1675–85; earlier suff; of uncertain origin
Related formssurf·a·ble, adjectivesurf·er, nounsurf·like, adjective
Can be confusedserf surf

Synonyms for surf

1. See wave. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for surfing

Contemporary Examples of surfing

Historical Examples of surfing

  • He taught me diving and surfing until I was nearly as clever as he, and he was cleverer than the average Kanaka.

  • I worked on my Beat paper all the next day at home, reading the Kerouac and surfing the Xnet.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow

  • Conditions are ideal for surfing, outrigger canoe paddling and catamaran sailing.

  • Help paddle an outrigger canoe in through the surf, take a surfing lesson, snorkel, swim or sun.

  • If surfing the Net is part of the newlyweds' life, there is even less dialogue.

British Dictionary definitions for surfing



the sport of riding towards shore on the crest of a wave by standing or lying on a surfboard
Derived Formssurfer or surfrider, noun



waves breaking on the shore or on a reef
foam caused by the breaking of waves


(intr) to take part in surfing
  1. computing(on the internet) to move freely from website to website (esp in the phrase surf the net)
  2. to move freely between (TV channels or radio stations)
  1. informalto be carried on top of somethingthat guy's surfing the audience
  2. (in combination)trainsurfing
Derived Formssurfable, adjectivesurflike, adjective

Word Origin for surf

C17: probably variant of sough 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for surfing

1955, verbal noun from surf (v.).



1680s, probably from earlier suffe (1590s), of uncertain origin. Originally used in reference to the coast of India, hence perhaps of Indic origin. Or perhaps a phonetic respelling of sough, which meant "a rushing sound."



"ride the crest of a wave," 1917, from surf (n.). Related: Surfed; surfing. In the Internet sense, first recorded 1993.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

surfing in Science



The waves of the sea as they break upon a shore or a reef.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.