Snowboarding slang and lingo share many similarities with the terms used by skiers. That’s hardly surprising, given that skiing has been around for much longer. However, in an effort to create a separate sport, borders use plenty of unique snowboarding terms that often mean nothing to the average skier.
In this guide, we reveal the meaning behind the most common snowboarding phrases so you can communicate better with your buddies on the hill.
67 most essential snowboarding terms for beginners
Some of these snowboarding words and terms may sound familiar if you are a skier because there are overlaps between the two sports. However, there are also plenty of phrases and jargon that are used more by snowboarders.
A lot of snowboarding terms for tricks are pretty weird, like air-to-fakie, Haakon flip, and the McTwist. But needless to say, these things are well beyond the abilities of a beginner, so I’ve not included many in this glossary of snowboarding words, phrases, and vocabulary.
While a lot of snowboarding vocabulary is international, there are a few differences between Europe, America, Australia/New Zeeland, Japan, and other destinations. If any of the terms below are region-specific, I’ll point them out to you.
You get air when your board comes off the snow, and you do a jump. Most snowboarders love getting air, and the higher they can go, the happier they are. If a jump is particularly impressive, you are said to be getting “big air.”
02Air dog (US)
An air dog is snowboarder slang for someone who spends more time off the snow than on it. If you love to jump your board whenever the opportunity arises, you’ll probably get called an air dog from time to time.
A backcountry snowboarder is someone who spends most of their time away from the prepared snowboarding areas and runs. This is known as going off-piste in Europe.
A backside 180 is a snowboarding trick that involves a jump followed by a 180-degree mid-air turn, so you land with your board facing backwards.
In snowboarding language, bailing means aborting a trick before you start or part way through, e.g., “man, I totally had to bail on that backside 180.” In some cases, bailing may involve voluntarily falling over, which may be preferable to crashing out.
A Betty is a non-derogatory term for a female snowboarder. You may see this piece of snowboarding logo on the doors of public bathrooms and changing rooms.
A thrilling snowboarding event where boarders race through turns, banks, obstacles and jumps in heats of 4-6 riders.
Bonking means to hit (or bonk) a non-snow object, like a tree stump, with your snowboard. When done intentionally, a bonk is a type of trick. Any other time, it’s just an unfortunate accident! You can nose bonk or tail bonk, which are the front and back of your snowboard.
A snowboarding trick that involves sliding across a box or rail with your board at 90 degrees to the obstacle.
Getting big air often requires a lot of speed. A jump or snowboarding trick that needs big air is known as a booter.
11 Brain bucket (US/OZ/NZ)
Snowboarding slang for a helmet. Brain buckets used to be a rare sight on the slopes but are now all but compulsory in most resorts.
What skiers call hardpack snow, snowboarders call bulletproof. This is when the snow is compact and frozen. Bulletproof snow is very fast but painful to land on if you have to bail or have a wipeout.
No, not where you sleep. Instead, this is one of the things snowboarders say to describe bad news, such as when their favourite jump is closed.
A perfect turn where the edge of the board digs into the snow, so you gain speed with each subsequent turn.
Snowboarders often do tricks that involve riding their boards across obstacles, such as rails. This is called grinding. A C-rail is a rail with a curve.
16Cat track (US)
A cat track is a trial that links one snowboarding area to another. Most cat tracks are flat and easy to negotiate.
Core is short for hardcore and describes your attitude to snowboarding and life in general. If you have to ask what core is, you cannot be core.
If you have a big fall, you may end up digging up a whole lot of snow and all but buying yourself. In snowboarding slang terms, this is called a crater.
Snowboarding is not all tricks and jumps. A cruiser run is a smooth trail where snowboarders take it easy and just enjoy the ride.
If you can do a trick perfectly over and over, you might say to your fellow boarders that you’ve got it dialled, as in dialled in.
In snowboard lingo, a drifter is someone who wanders from one side of a run to another with little thought to what is going on behind them. This term is usually reserved for beginners who don’t know any better!
A drop-in is the steep start of a run or the top of a halfpipe. You basically go from a flat board to almost vertical with no gradual increase in incline.
This snowboarding phrase means that your feet point outward on the board.
The metal edge of the snowboard that cuts into the snow to give you purchase during turns.
Usually done on purpose, but sometimes by accident, a fakie is when you ride your board backwards down a slope. For example, you’ll end up doing a fakie after a backside 180.
26Fall line (US)
The straightest and usually the fastest line down the slope.
Flailing means riding your board without control. You may find yourself flailing if your board is going too fast for comfort. It’s often better to bail than flail!
No, not snowboarding jargon for someone with no discernible butt! Instead, the term flat bottom refers to the bottom of the two sides of a halfpipe.
This term is mainly used in association with riding the halfpipe, but it may also be used to describe jumps, spins, tricks and riding on boxes or rails.
A gaper is someone who stands awestruck and slack-jawed as they watch other snowboarders doing tricks they can only dream of.
Gnarly can mean challenging, difficult, dangerous, or scary. But, most things that are gnarly are also very cool!
In snowboarding lingo, you are said to be goofy if you snowboard with your right foot going downhill first. In contrast, having your left foot forward is known as a regular stance.
A grab is any trick where you hold onto part of your board, usually during a jump. Grabs make most jumps harder, as they can disrupt your balance.
A U-shaped open-top tube made of packed snow for freestyle snowboarding. Snowboarders often get big air off the top of a halfpipe.
A hucker is someone who throws themselves into tricks or jumps or down a run, with no regard for their safety or the safety of those around them.
36Hot dog (US)
A cheap lunch or dinner and also a very skilled female (Betty) snowboarder.
The best time to ski in Japan – January.
Another name for a rail.
A curve or bend in a jib or rail.
A device used to attach the snowboard to your front foot, so it won’t slide away while getting in or out of the bindings. Very useful for backcountry snowboarding, where losing your board could mean a long walk home.
One of the snowboarding slang phrases for powder snow. Pew pew typically covers bulletproof snow after a dump or heavy snowfall. You may also hear the term pow pow, which is what skiers tend to say.
Calling someone fat is pretty rude, but phat is something that’s not just cool but VERY cool, i.e., “that trick was phat!”
Confusingly, Brits often call their skis planks, but US snowboarders use the same word to describe their boards. You may also hear the term stick used to describe a snowboard.
A poacher is anyone who snowboards where they are not supposed to, such as in an out-of-bounds area.
Unsurprisingly, a quarter pipe (QP) is half of a half pipe. With lower sides, a QP is a great place to get some speed and catch big air.
Rad is short for radical and means totally awesome. This is one of those snowboard phrases that most people know but don’t know they know!
Referring to your stance, regular is when you snowboard with your left foot leading downhill.
A ripper is someone who snowboards really well. A young person would be called a “little ripper.”
While you probably won’t be doing this trick anytime soon, a rodeo is a backflip with a spin.
Scoping means checking something out before doing it yourself. For example, you might scope out a run or a trick.
A scorpion is a fall where you land flat on your face, and your board comes up behind you and comes close or actually hits you in the back of the head. Needless to say, scorpions are generally best avoided!
52Shredding the backcountry (US/OZ/NZ)
This snowboarding phrase means doing extreme boarding off-piste, usually involving very steep descents, big air, and virgin pew pew. It’ll be rad and gnarly!
How you’ll probably feel after a few too many beers the night before and yet another term for something that’s really cool, dangerous, exciting, etc.
A jib with several curves that looks like an S when viewed from above.
A snowboarder’s worst enemy and the term for someone who cuts in front of you in the lift line or drops in front of you in the halfpipe. Don’t be a snake!
We hope you have very few of these, but a stack means a fall during which you really hurt yourself. So, for example, a scorpion could probably be classed as a stack.
A combination of style and ease – making it look easy, even when it’s hard or gnarly.
To really nail your landing after a trick or jump. You might also say you stuck your landing.
59Snow bunny (US)
A snow bunny is a very attractive Betty, i.e., a good-looking female snowboarder who may or may not be a hot dog.
A lunchtime treat and also when you fall over a rail, e.g., when grinding a jib, and end up folded over it with your legs on one side and your upper body on the other.
Tailsliding basically means doing a wheelie on a snowboard, so only the back end is touching the snow.
Often pronounced “toight,” this is another of those snowboard phrases that means cool, fantastic, awesome, etc.
To travel across a hill from one side to the other without heading straight down the slope.
Where snowboarders sometimes call skiers planks or plankers, snowboarders are sometimes called trays or trayers. This is a mildly derogatory term, but they only say it because they’re so jealous of how cool snowboarding is!
A big crash that leaves you in a heap on the snow.
A weather condition where visibility is severally limited. It can be caused by fog, heavy snow, or a combination of these. Whiteouts are dangerous because you won’t be able to see hazards until they’re very close, e.g., trees or other snowboarders.
67Yard sale (US/OZ/NZ)
A yard sale is when you crash, and all your gear flies off in different directions. It ends up strewn all over the place, so it looks like you are having a yard sale.
Snowboarding terminology for beginners – wrapping up
While skiing and snowboarding share a lot of the same vocabulary, they also have words, slang, and jargon that are unique to each sport. Confusingly, sometimes they’re even talking about the same thing, like pew pew vs pow pow for fresh powder snow.
So, whether you are a novice snowboarder or have a background in skiing and are thinking of going over to the “dark side,” you’ll need to be fluent in snowboarding slang and lingo to understand and be better understood.
Study these words and phrases, memorize them, and you’ll soon be speaking like a native snowboarder!