What is a ‘kook’ anyway?

So, what does ‘kook’ mean?

In surf slang, it’s a term for a novice surfer – and not an especially nice one. If someone calls you a kook, you’ve possibly just done something really stupid. Did you  accidentally drop in on someone or nearly get killed? OOOPS. To spare your blushes next time out, read up on some surf etiquette and make sure you understand the concept of wave priority.

Surfer falling off surfboard

Photo by Bengt Nyman

A kook can also be a poser. They’re the one who’s got all the gear but has no clue how to use any of it. The first time I ever went to surf camp, there two girls who seemed to have Roxy brand everything.  But I just can’t seem to remember ever seeing them being in the water, just hanging out on the beach with their backpacks. Kooks? Possibly. Maybe they just loved snowboarding and found they hated surfing.

Outside the world of surfing, a kook is someone who is eccentric, unusual, or strange. Usually, this isn’t very complimentary. There may be one exception though – when it comes to fashion,  ‘kooky’ style might just be something to aspire to. Vogue will happy describe anyone and anything from Cara Delevingne to a Marni collection as ‘kooky’. In these instances, kooky seems to mean ‘having some semblance of personality’. Other kooky style icons include Zooey Deschanel, Joanna Newsom and the fabulous Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes).

So, if someone calls you a kook, own it. Say “yeah, I’m a kook, so what?!”

Unless you did just almost cause an accident in the line-up. In that case, you should definitely apologise.


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