Why Are Young Surfers Called Grommets?

Why are young surfers called groms?

Surf culture is notorious for its unique vocabulary that can leave outsiders feeling perplexed.

Have you ever heard the term “grom” or “grommet” thrown around and found yourself scratching your head?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people assume it’s an acronym, a confusing translation, or an entirely imaginary word.

But fear not, for we are here to lead you into the strange world of surf slang and explain the meaning behind this elusive term.

Let’s explore the story of the grommets — the passionate young surfers who are an essential part of surfing culture.

Complete your surfer look and elevate your style with unique masterpieces.
Surfcasual offers the ultimate collection of comfy surfer’s t-shirts that perfectly blend class and stoke.

Explore our exclusive collection here.

Origins of The Grom Term

In 1964, journalist Nicholas Tomalin contextualized the term “grommet” in an article about surfing in Newquay, Cornwall.

According to Tomalin, a young or inexperienced surfer was referred to as a “gremmie”. This term was previously used in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s and was derived from the word “gremlin.

But there’s more to that — it is also possible that the term “grommet” originated from an Early Modern English word used to refer to a “junior seaman.”

And it makes sense, as the term “grom” also has its roots in the word “grommet,” which typically refers to the least experienced members of a naval vessel.

The term has then been popularized in the South Coast of NSW in the 1970s.

The Australian surfing community adopted the term to describe talented young surfers, using it both as a sign of admiration and a playful jab at the less experienced surfers in the water.

It’s worth noting that the terms “grommet” and “gremmie” may have separate and distinct origins.

But why do surfers use this term, and how does it relate to the larger surf lexicon?

The Relationship Between Grommets and Surf Culture

Surf culture has a unique vocabulary that can be confusing to outsiders. But for those in the know, the language of surfing is a way to express the passion, excitement, and camaraderie that is so deeply ingrained in the surfing community.

Many of the words and phrases used in surfing slang have their roots in the sport’s history and culture.

For example, the word “stoked” is often used to describe the feeling of excitement and enthusiasm that surfers experience when catching a wave.

This word originated in the 1960s and was used by surfers to describe the feeling of being “high” on surfing.

Similarly, the term “grommet” is deeply rooted in surf culture and is a way for surfers to acknowledge and celebrate the next generation of wave riders.

Young surfers who work hard and love the sport are given a special name that shows they are part of the surfing group. It is like a welcome sign to join the group.

Use of Grom Today

Today, the term “grommet” is still widely used in the surfing community, and still is as mentioned an integral part of surf culture.

Young surfers wear the label with pride, and the term is a way for them to connect with other surfers and show their dedication to the sport.

The term “grommet” initially referred to a surfer who was younger than 16 years old but, in recent times, it has been not limited only to surfing.

In addition, the term has been adopted to encompass other extreme activities, whether they are part of the water sports realm or not, such as skateboarding, roller derby, and snowboarding.

Also in these contexts, it is used to describe young and inexperienced participants who are just starting to explore the sport.


After reading this you won’t have to nod your head anxiously when you hear the word or be called a grom.

Now you know that the term “grommet” has a long and fascinating history in the world of surfing, from its origins in Australia to its current use as a term of endearment for young surfers, this quirky nickname is a beloved part of surf culture.