Stoked Again

When I was an adolescent, I surfed. I was never very good, but I paddled out, on good days and bad, and tried to “shred” the measly little waves of Sea Isle City, New Jersey. When I look back, I can’t remember actually surfing as much as a I remember a calm and exhausted joy that came from spending hours in the ocean. Last year I decided to try surfing again, along with my girlfriend who’d never done it. We were both, I think, looking for a bit of that oceanic joy. We were stoked.

I thought surfing would be like riding a bike. But after returning to the water, and soon nursing a host of unforeseen pains – sore ribs, torn up knees, a gash on my head, bug bites everywhere, a dead arm, and several sliced toes – not to mention the humiliation of getting battered again and again before I even made it out to the line up, I decided surfing was not like riding a bike. I could barely lie on my board, never mind stand on it. Riding a bike, I realized with a mouthful of ocean, does not involve thousands of gallons of rushing white water driving your face into the sand.

But I digress. This little tale is not about how surfing has changed since I was young; it’s about how it’s the same — linguistically. Surfing slang that we used in the 80s is still popular. I was “stoked” then, and I’m “stoked” now. Everyone who surfs says this.

I tried to look up the word history of “stoked.” It comes from the verb “to stoke” as in stoking a fire by poking or adding fuel. To be stoked is to be fired up. One source tells me that “stoked” was used as an adjective to describe an excited state as early as 1902, but that in the 1960s surfers revived this usage.

In poking around for “stoked,” I came across this slang dictionary project at the University of Oregon for which students have collected words from various social groups (It’s definitely worth combing through). I recognize a lot of the surfer slang, but not all of it. Here are a few examples:

Amped (adjective) Source: Standard English; derived from the word amplitude. , Meaning: excited; stoked; pertaining to a high emotional feeling.
Chowder (noun) Source: Clam Chowder, Meaning: seamen, cum, Social Group: Seaside surfers
Glassy (adjective) Source: the comparison of glass to a body of calm water., Meaning: calm and nice; smooth, not choppy.,
Neptune cocktail (noun phrase) Source: Standard English; derived from the English words neptune (Roman God of the sea) and cocktail., Meaning: The large bellyful of seawater that one ingested during a bad wipeout
Sand facial (noun phrase) Source: Standard English derived from the English words sand and facial., Meaning: The result of wiping out and being dragged along the sandy ocean floor face first.
Sick (adjective) Source: probably referring to the idea that something can be so impressive that it makes one ill to witness it., Meaning: used to describe something as extremely skilled or impressive,
Stink Eye (Noun) Source: English, Meaning: Glaring or looking at someone unpleasantly
Stoked (verb) Source: from “stoke” as in “to add fuel to a fire”, Meaning: This term is used to indicate one’s excitement or happiness at a particular event or situation
Surf’s up (Complete sentence or predicate) Source: Literally: The surf is up , Meaning: The waves are of good enough height for good surfing.
Worked (Verb) Source: Comes from the verb “to work,” meaning “to shape” or “to form.”, Meaning: When a surfer is knocked off his board while surfing and is tossed about by the wave
Bro (noun) Source: adapted from “brother”, Meaning: neutral term for ‘friend’ or ‘guy
Bro (noun) Source: people who say bro a lot, Meaning: a poser surfer

Aus, this makes me think of your checkered Vans and Sun-in days. Are OP courduroy shorts coming back?

SneakerGrouch    Aug 26, 01:13 PM    #

I wish! I love OPs.

Austin    Aug 28, 08:54 AM    #

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