Skateboarding Lingo (A Guide To Understanding Skaters)

Skateboarders have their own slang and lingo that they use when talking to each other and explaining tricks. Maybe you heard them say gnarly, sketchy, mongo, on lock, or landing bolts. 

I don’t blame you for not knowing what they mean. There was a time when I didn’t, either. That is why I’m here to explain these slang words to you.

Think of this as your urban dictionary for skater lingo and terms.

180

A 180 refers to a half skateboard, and body rotation performed either front side or backside. They can often be incorporated with other flip or grab tricks.

360

The 360 is a full rotation of the body and board and can also be performed on either the front side or backside.

540

A 540 is a one-and-a-half body rotation and is performed either front side or backside.

720

A 720 is two complete skateboard and body rotations performed either front side or backside.

900

The 900 is two and a half skateboard and body rotations performed either front side or backside. Tony Hawk landed the first 900 at X Games V in 1999 after ten failed attempts.

1080

A 1080 is three complete skateboard and body rotations. This trick has only ever been landed by 12-year-old Gui Khury at the 2021 X Games. He was then congratulated by Tony Hawk, who had only ever landed the 900.

Acid Drop

An acid drop is when you skate off the end of an object (like a curb) without touching the board with your hands and without ollieing.

Getting “Air”

You get “air” every time you hit a ramp, ollie, or perform an aerial trick.

Airwalk

An airwalk is an aerial trick where the skater grabs the board’s nose and kicks their feet out while in the air. They then quickly get back on to land. It appears as if the skater is walking on the board while in the air.

Alley-Oop

Alley-oop is an aerial transition trick that gets the skater to move their body sideways opposite the rotating movement.

Am

Short for an amateur and used to describe amateur skaters.

Anchor Grind

An anchor grind is a grind trick performed on the front truck, leaving the tail pointing back, down, and away from the obstacle.

Axle

The axle is a metal rod that runs through the skateboard truck’s hanger and is the piece that the wheels are mounted to.

Backside

Backside refers to when a trick or turn is executed with the skater’s back facing the ramp coping or obstacle.

Bail

A bail is when the skateboarder is forced to jump or step off the skateboard safely when a trick goes wrong.

Bank

A bank is the term to describe an elevated and sloped area, skaters ride up and down them and perform tricks.

Baseplate

The baseplate is the flat piece of a truck that mounts the skateboard truck to the deck.

Bearings

Bearings are inserted to the wheel and are actually to thank for making the wheels spin. Bearings are sold in sets of eight, the perfect amount for your new set of wheels. The bearings are put in both sides of the wheel before the wheel can be tightened to the trucks.

Benihana

A benihana is a grab trick where the skater does an ollie and then pulls the board forward with their front foot. Leaving their back foot hanging in the air, they grab the tail before pulling the board back under their feet.

Blunt

A blunt is a trick where the skater lands the tail of their board onto a coping or edge of an object and then continues skating.

Boardslide

A boardslide is a grind where you slide your graphic or the bottom of your skateboard against an object like a railing.

Boneless

A boneless is a trick where the skater takes their front foot off the board, grabs the deck with their hand, and then jumps up back onto the board. However, they must do that with their back foot on the board the entire time. 

Bowl

A bowl can be made out of wood or concrete. They are pool-like structures that are installed in skateparks. 

Fact: In the 70s, the new skater’s of California took to emptying their neighbor’s pools to “ride the concrete waves.”

Box

A box is quite literally a rectangular box that is made from either wood or concrete. They typically have metal edges that allow for grinding. 

Brain Bucket

Brain bucket refers to a helmet. If you don’t have one, go get yourself a certified brain bucket.

Burly

A burly refers to any high-risk trick that could lead to severe injuries if it is not landed successfully.

Bushing

A bushing is a ring-shaped polyurethane component that surrounds a truck’s kingpin and helps the board turn and pivot.

Caballerial

The Caballerial is a trick that was invented by Steve Caballero in the early 1980s. To do the Caballerial, the skater must perform a 360-degree ollie in a ramp while riding fakie, without grabbing the board.

Carve

To carve or carving is a maneuver where you make a long, curving arc. 

Complete

A complete is a skateboard that comes with all of its components – the deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, grip tape, and hardware. You can sometimes get them already assembled too.

Coping

Coping is the piece of metal pipe or edging that is fitted onto the lip of a ramp or halfpipe.

Curb

A curb is the raised edge of a sidewalk.

Deck

The deck is the wooden part of the skateboard.

Delamination

Delamination is a defect that happens in the deck’s plywood. It results in the layers of wood peel away from each other.

Demo

A demo is a skateboarding event with riding and gear demonstrations, usually held in skateparks and skate shops. Frequently they will toss out free merch or stickers.

Dial/ On lock

When you can finally land a trick flawlessly over and over again, then you have that trick “on lock” or “dialed.”

Double Set

A double set is a stairway with two sets of stairs connected by a flat section or platform.

Downhill Skateboarding

Downhill skating is a skateboarding style where the skater goes down steep roads to catch high speeds. Usually, this is best if done on a longboard or cruiser and only when wearing full body protection and a helmet.

Drop-In

A drop-in is a way of entering a bowl or halfpipe from the top.

Durometer

Durometer is the measure of hardness used to rate polyurethane wheels. The scale is determined by two rating systems, the A and B, both of which are rated from 1 to 100. 

Extension

Extension refers to the area of a ramp where the transition goes higher than the rest of the area.

Face Plant

A face plant is when you fall off of your skateboard, landing face first. 

Fakie

A fakie is when a skater rides their board backward.

Five-O (5-O)

A five-o is a type of grind where you grind only using your back truck.

Frontside

Frontside means when a trick or turn is performed with the skater’s front-facing the ramp coping or the obstacle.

Fruit Boots 

Fruit boots is a derogatory expression that skaters sometimes use to describe and make fun of inline skates and rollerblades.

Full Cab

Full cab is another name for a Caballerial.

Funbox

Funbox is an alternative name for box. They usually have metal on either side, which allows for grinding.

Gap

A gap is the distance between two rideable objects, areas, or surfaces that are usually used by skaters to ollie over and perform other aerial tricks.

Gnarly

Gnarly was originally used by surfers to describe anything that was awesome, amazing, dangerous or reckless. Seeing how surfers popularized skateboarding in the 70s, it’s not hard to believe that skater’s adopted this word as well. You might also hear them say “gnar” for short.

Goofy-Foot

Goofy-foot is when a skater rides with their right foot forward and their left foot at the back of the skateboard. Learn more about the goofy vs regular stance.

Grab

A grab is when a skater uses their hand or hands to hold the skateboard during a trick.

Grind

A grind is a trick where either the board or trucks glide across (and grind against) the object. All four wheels remain off the ground until the skater successfully gets out of the grind. 

Grip Tape

Grip tape is a material similar to sandpaper applied to the top of the deck to give skaters more grip.

Grom/ Grommet

A Grom or a grommet means a young skater kid.

Halfpipe

A halfpipe is a U-shaped ramp. Each side of a halfpipe has a platform and the skaters can drop in from either side, performing their tricks. 

Hanger

The hanger is the largest part of the truck, the steel that is mostly exposed to grinding.

Heelflip

A heelflip is a trick where you flip the board with your heel by kicking out. It’s in the opposite direction of a kickflip, making it like the reverse of a kickflip.

Indy Grab

An indy grab is when you get air and grab the board with your backhand. 

Kick Turn

A kickturn is the action of turning your board by shifting the weight to the tail of the skateboard and twisting.

Kickflip

A kickflip is an extremely popular skateboard trick. Most new skaters will use this trick as one of their early main goals. The kickflip was originally invented by Curt Lindgren and was then later modified by one of the greatest skateboarders of all time, Rodney Mullen.

Kingpin

The kingpin is the large bolt in the center of the truck that holds the hanger, cushions, and baseplate of a truck in place.

Kink

A kink is a rail that goes straight, down, and then straight again.

Land

Land simply means to successfully complete a trick.

Landing Bolts

Landing bolts means to land a trick perfectly. Ideally, you should always be landing with both your feet on the bolts of your skateboard. Hence the term, landing bolts.

Lip

A lip is the top edge of either a bowl, halfpipe, or ramp.

Longboard

A longboard is a type of skateboard that is used for downhill skating, commuting, and cruising. They’re longer, faster, and more stable but cannot be used for traditional skateboard tricks or riding in a skatepark.

Mega Ramp

A mega ramp is a gigantic vert ramp made from metal scaffolding and a wood surface. Mega ramps typically feature a roll-in, a gap jump, and a vert quarter pipe section.

Mini Ramp

A mini ramp is a smaller version of a halfpipe – usually six feet tall and features smooth transitions without any vert sections.

Mob

Mob simply means to have bad style. You’re just not steezy, bub.

Mongo/ Mongo-Foot

Mongo is a skateboarding stance where you push with your front foot and keep your back foot on the board. It can also be referred to as mongo pushing or mongo-foot. 

Nollie

A nollie is when you complete an ollie on the nose of the board instead of the tail.

Nose

The nose refers to the front of the skateboard.

Nose grab

A nose grab is when you grab the nose of your board with your leading hand.

Ollie

An ollie is one of the most popular skateboard tricks. It is when the skater kicks down the tail with one foot and then slides their other foot up, causing the skateboard to jump. 

Pop Shove-It

A pop shove-it is a trick that combines an ollie and a shove-it, causing the board to get air and then spin 180 degrees.

Poser

A poster isn’t just used within the skate community, but it’s a popular word amongst skaters. A poser is someone who poses or pretends to be someone that they’re not.

Pumping

Pumping is a motion that you do by moving your body weight around on your skateboard to increase your speed without using your feet on the ground to push you. 

Pushing

Pushing is the action that you make to push your board forward. Keep as much weight on your leading foot as possible and push against the ground with your back foot. 

Pyramid

A pyramid is a pyramid-shaped obstacle that has a flat top. They are often found in many skateparks.

Quarterpipe

A quarterpipe is basically a quarter section of a pipe that has a curved piece leading to a vertical ramp.

Rad

Short form for radical.

Rail

A rail is any handrail that skater’s can use to grind. 

Razor Tail

A razor tail is a chipped tail on a skateboard. It is caused by stopping or slowing down your board by putting all of your weight on the tail, allowing it to drag to a halt.

Regular Footer

A regular footer is a skater that rides with their left foot forward. Those who ride with their right foot forward are called goofy, have a goofy stance etc.

Sesh

A sesh refers to a skateboard session.

Sidewalk Surfer

Sidewalk surfer can be used as a term to reference skateboarders.

Sidewalk Surfing

Sidewalk surfing is another term for skateboarding.

Sk8

Sk8 is one of the most popular abbreviations for the word, skate.

Skatepark

A skatepark is a public or privately owned area that has a wide range of objects and obstacles for skaters to perform tricks on. Skateparks can be indoor or outdoor and can range in entry fees if they have any.

Sketchy

Sketchy is a word that skater’s use to describe a trick that wasn’t landed perfectly or properly. If the skater looks like they could’ve fallen off but regain balance on their board, then they had a sketchy landing.

Snake

A snake is someone who doesn’t wait their turn when skating a line at a skatepark. Usually everyone waits and takes their own turn between others’ attempts. However, a snake will not wait their turn, causing everyone else to wait longer. The term can also be used as a verb such as “I was going to drop in until that dude snaked me.”

Steez/ Steezy

Steez is the combination of the words “style” and “ease” and is used to mean a stylish and perfectly executed trick or maneuver.

Stick

To stick the landing means to land a trick.

Stoked

To be excited.

Street Skating

Street skateboarding is a style that uses the environment of the street to perform tricks. Some things that skaters might use are curbs, benches, steps, and rails.

Switch Stance

Switch stance is when the skater rides their board not using their normal or natural stance. For instance, if you usually ride with your left foot forward, your switch stance would be to ride with your right foot forward.

Tail

The tail is the back end of a skateboard.

Tail Slide

A tailslide is a grind trick where the skater slides the tail of the board across a lip, edge, or rail.

Trick

A maneuver performed on a skateboard.

Trucks

Trucks are the small metal pieces that are bolted to the deck. They are what house the wheels and bearings, connecting them to the board.

Vert

Slang for vertical. 

Vert Skating

Vert skating is a style of skateboarding where the skater performs moves and tricks in a halfpipe or ramp. Vert is the kind of skateboarding that you see at the X Games and now in Olympic skateboarding.

Wheel Bite

If you apply too much weight onto the side of the board, it is possible to catch the wheel, slowing or stopping the skateboard. This is called wheel bite. Wheel bite can be dangerous and throw you off the board. However, there are simple ways to stop wheel bite.

Wipe Out

Exactly what it sounds like. When a skater wipes out or falls.

Wood Pusher

This is kind of a jab that people will make. Skaters can be referred to as wood pushers. However, it is not a title that most skateboarders like being called.

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