Stab Magazine | Matt Warshaw On Being The Oxford English Dictionary Surf Consultant

Matt Warshaw On Being The Oxford English Dictionary Surf Consultant

“I lost 90 minutes of my life looking for a pre-2000 quotation using the phrase ‘doggy door.'”

news // Jun 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Matt Warshaw is, without doubt, one of surfing’s finest-ever writers. He is Surfer Magazine’s former editor and currently curates the online Encyclopedia of Surfing (which is only the creme scooped off the top of a very rich career). Given his supreme understanding of the place where words and surf meet, he was tapped earlier this year to become Surf Consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary. So, just what exactly does such a thing mean? Let’s ask Matt!

libertad102 RJ

Matt, an ex pro, knows surf better than most.

Stab: Tell me: What does being The Oxford English Dictionary Surf Consultant actually entail?
Matt Warshaw: By day I inspect their latest surf-word definitions, and then page through back issues of surf mags like a fuckin’ intern, looking for the earliest published instance of that particular word. So last week, for example, I lost 90 minutes of my life looking for a pre-2000 quotation using the phrase “doggy door.” 
By night, me and the rest of the OED consultants drink pints at Duke’s Head in Putney, and prank-text Sam Smith.

Do you have the pleasure of recommending new word additions, or do they just check with you to make sure they’re on the right track? I just check they’re on the right track. And honestly, for a bunch of stiff-lipped upper-crusted Poms who’ve never clocked the inside of a barrel or dampened a tablecloth with sinus drain or wasted three straight work days on a WSL webcast – they get the surf definitions right. Like, every time. Much respect.

000728 BURKARD 41661

An image of the happy place were surf and words meet.

If you could ban any surf terms the Oxford Dictionary, what would they be? I would battle with all the fierceness and valour my Jewish ancestors used against pillaging Cossacks on the Russian Steppe to make sure that “sick” and “high-line wrap” never be included in the OED. 

Anything else we should know about this honour? “The gig pays just $550 US. But I’m looking at it as a strong first step toward knighthood.”



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