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[sur-fing] /ˈsɜr fɪŋ/
the act or sport of riding the surf, as on a surfboard.
Also called surfriding.
Origin of surfing
1915-20; surf + -ing1


[surf] /sɜrf/
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.
1675-85; earlier suff; of uncertain origin
Related forms
surfable, adjective
surfer, noun
surflike, adjective
Can be confused
serf, surf.
1. See wave. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for surfing
  • The cabin is both a launchpad for surfing and a place to relax in the rugged landscape.
  • surfing currents allows crocodiles to travel long distances.
  • It occurred to me that other sci-fi and fantasy movies also require terse synopses for the channel-surfing community.
  • The grainy footage showed surfers throwing dynamite in a river and surfing on the resulting waves.
  • Further surfing reveals that natural rubber is preferred for the tread of tires.
  • Enjoy boating and deep-sea fishing, surfing the waves and leisurely boardwalk strolls.
  • Our exclusive surfing guide features ten hot spots to catch southern-hemi swells this summer.
  • Then there are the physical demands of the sports: surfing is exhausting and occasionally life-threatening.
  • surfing the web is getting faster and cheaper by the day.
  • Many people now spend as much time surfing the web as they do with television, magazines or newspapers.
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 Forms
surfer, surfrider, noun


waves breaking on the shore or on a reef
foam caused by the breaking of waves
(intransitive) 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. (informal) to be carried on top of something: that guy's surfing the audience
  2. (in combination): trainsurfing
Derived Forms
surfable, adjective
surflike, adjective
Word Origin
C17: probably variant of sough1
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
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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
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surfing in Science
The waves of the sea as they break upon a shore or a reef.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for surfing

sure thing


Yes; certainly; willingly: Sure thing I'll go with you (1896+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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surfing in Technology

("Internet surfing") Used by analogy to describe the ease with which an expert user can use the waves of information flowing around the Internet to get where he wants. The term became popular in the early 1990s as access to the Internet became more widespread and tools such as World-Wide Web browsers made its use simpler and more pleasant.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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