Thrash Talking: A Glossary of Rad Skateboarding Terms

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Skateboarding is more than just a sport; it’s a lifestyle, a subculture with its own language and a vibrant community. To truly immerse yourself in the world of skateboarding, it’s essential to grasp the slang and terminology used by skateboarders. In this article, we’ll take you through the vibrant lexicon that defines skateboard culture, so you can speak the language and better understand the community.

Riding a skateboard is not merely a physical act; it’s a rhythmic dance between the rider, the board, and the urban landscape. Beyond the flips, grinds, and ollies, skateboarding unfolds as a living, breathing subculture, complete with its own linguistic tapestry that weaves through skate parks, alleyways, and the bustling streets. This lexicon, a fusion of rebellion and camaraderie, is more than just words—it’s a passport into the heart of a vibrant community that thrives on asphalt and concrete.

As we drop into the world of skateboarding slang, be prepared to discover expressions that are as dynamic as the tricks executed on the deck. From the ‘ollie’ that propels riders into the air with finesse to the ‘gnarly’ challenges that test the limits of skill and courage, each term resonates with a distinct energy that encapsulates the spirit of the sport. So, buckle up your helmet and tighten those trucks, as we delve into the linguistic landscape of skateboarding terms that don’t refer to tricks or equipment. Okay, maybe we left in a few tricks.

Skateboarding Slang Over the Decades

Skateboarding slang over the years has evolved to reflect the current culture and trends of the sport:

  • The 1970s saw the emergence of terms like “shredding” and “vert,” reflecting the rise of vertical skateboarding.
  • In the 1980s, the “gnarly” and “rad” era brought a focus on big tricks and high-flying maneuvers.
  • The 1990s introduced “street” skating and terms like “ollie” and “kickflip,” which are still used today.
  • Today’s skateboarding slang includes phrases like “stoked,” “grind,” and “pop,” reflecting the diverse styles and influences of modern skating.


Skateboarding lingo around the world differs as well – in the U.S., your kickflip might be gnarly, but down under, it’d be sick! (Although to be fair, “sick” is a pretty common expression in the U.S. now as well.) Skateboarding slang has also made many inroads into establishment lingo over the past fifty years. “Dude”, “rad”, “poser”, and many other words got their start amongst skateboarders, and are now part of our everyday mainstream lexicon, showing the impact skateboarding has on popular culture. We’re even seeing terms made popular in the 90’s making a comeback recently; particularly “betty” and “grindage”.

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1. Shred

Definition: To skate aggressively and with skill, often used to describe an impressive or intense skateboarding session.
Example: “Did you see him shredding that half-pipe? He’s got some serious skills!”

2. Kickflip

Definition: A skateboarding trick in which the skateboard flips under the skater’s feet while jumping.
Example: “I finally landed my first kickflip after weeks of practice.”

3. Ollie

Definition: The fundamental skateboarding trick involving a jump where the skater and board become airborne without using their hands.
Example: “Learning to ollie is the first step for any skateboarder.”

4. Grind

Definition: To slide along a surface with the trucks or wheels, often on a rail or edge.
Example: “He did a 50-50 grind down that handrail like a pro.”

5. Vert

Definition: Skateboarding on a vertical ramp.
Example: After hours of perfecting his technique, Jake finally conquered the art of skating vert with the greatest of steez.

6. Bail

Definition: To jump or step off the board safely when a move goes wrong.
Example: Midway through a rail grind, Mark realized he was going to faceplant if he didn’t bail.

7. Pop

Definition: The force used to lift the skateboard off the ground, often referring to the height of an ollie.
Example: “His ollie has insane pop; he can jump over anything!”

8. Bowl

Definition: A large, curved feature often found in skate parks, resembling a swimming pool.
Example: “I love carving the bowl at the skate park; it’s so much fun.”

9. Sesh

Definition: Short for “skate session,” referring to a period of time spent skateboarding.
Example: “Let’s hit the skate park for an evening sesh.”

10. Stoked

Definition: Super excited/pleased.
Example: After landing his first kickflip, Alex exclaimed, “I’m so stoked right now!”

11. Bummer

Definition: Something disappointing.
Example: When Sam realized he had forgotten his skateboard at home on the day of the sesh, he sighed and muttered, “What a bummer, I was really looking forward to shredding with the crew.”

12. Manual

Definition: Balancing on two wheels.
Example: Leah skillfully maintained her balance as she executed a flawless manual, coasting on her skateboard’s back wheels alone.

13. Steezy/Steez

Definition: A popular term in many action sports, “steezy” combines “stylish” with “easy”, to describe the act of perfectly executing a trick and making it look easy. Steez, on the other hand, refers to a person’s distinctive style, or the quality of being effortlessly stylish.
Example: Derek’s shredding video went viral not just for his tricks but also for the undeniable steez he brought to each move.

14. Drop in

Definition: A way of entering a bowl or half-pipe from the top; going from a flat surface into a steep transition.
Example: Sarah dropped into the bowl with the confidence of a seasoned pro.

15. Gap

Definition: The distance between two ride-able objects, usually used to perform aerial tricks over as you jump between the objects.
Example: Nathan eyed the sizable gap between two ramps at the skatepark, contemplating whether he could successfully ollie over it.

16. Grom/Grommet

Definition: A young skater kid.
Example: The seasoned skateboarders at the park took notice as a lil’ grom, no older than ten, fearlessly dropped in on the mini-ramp, hinting at a promising future in the scene.

17. Sketchy/Sketch

Definition: A poorly executed trick or any less-than-ideal landing surface or condition could be described as sketchy. The opposite of sketchy is “clean.”
Example: Mike’s attempt at a kickflip off the stairs was super sketch, with the board spinning unevenly in the air before an awkward landing.

18. Landing Bolts

Definition: “Landing bolts” means to land your trick perfectly, meaning that technically you would be landing with both your feet on the bolts of your skateboard.
Example: Tom executed a flawless kickflip down the set of stairs, and as he touched down, his feet landed bolts, showcasing perfect precision and control.

19. Dialed/On Lock

Definition: If you can do a trick over and over consistently without trouble, it means that you have that trick “dialed” or “on lock”.
Example: After weeks of practice, Sarah had her kickflip on lock, effortlessly landing it every time she attempted the trick.

20. Snake

Definition: Someone who cuts you off or steals your line at a park or spot. Also, the act of cutting someone off or stealing their line.
Example: As Mark approached the rail for his next trick, he suddenly found himself frustrated as another skater swiftly snaked in, stealing his line.

21. Props

Definition: Respect given to someone for something.
Example: “Dude, mad props for that sick drop-in.”

22. Shnarly

Definition: Particularly Bad/horrible/sketchy. A cousin of gnarly.
Example: While attempting a challenging rail grind, Phil’s balance wavered and he awkwardly face-planted. What a schnarly landing!

23. Noggles

Definition: When you lightly tap your nuts – not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to scare you.
Example: “Aghhh! Noggles!”

24. Set

Definition: A set of stairs, usually preceded by the number of stairs.
Example: “Dude, your half-Cab over that 12-set was sick!”

25. Schralped

Definition: To remove several layers of skin in a fall.
Example: I schralped my ass hardcore just now!

Understanding skateboard slang is a key part of immersing yourself in the skateboarding culture. By grasping these terms, you’ll not only communicate better with fellow skateboarders but also gain a deeper appreciation for the sport and its community. So grab your deck, hit the park, and shred with confidence in the world of skateboarding slang!

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