“Barney” Surfing Term

My informant told me, that because surfing is so dependent on the unpredictable ocean, that when the waves are good, a surfer wants to use them to their full advantage. When an inexperienced surfer gets in on a line-up where the waves might be beyond their ability to catch, or they are in another surfer’s way, hindering their ability to catch waves, well they aren’t too happy.

In surfing, like any other sport or activity, there is a code of conduct. Surfers learn these rules and abide by them, so there is some organization when it comes to claiming a wave with many people in the water. When a person is interrupting this code, obviously not experienced, or unaware, they are called a “Barney.”

The term Barney, my informer tells me, is specific to California. He learned it while in the water, from surfers yelling, “Get out of here you Barney!” at people in the way. He says it is a negative term, often used with a curse word attached, as it is shouted with aggression and aggravation.

He believes the term may have originated with surfers around his father’s age of 68, whom are familiar with the cartoon the Flinstones. In the show, Barney is the character who is regarded as a fool.

If this truly is the case of the origin, it makes sense as Barney is the screw-up, comic relief, however he is lovable and forgivable. A Barney in this case is definitely not lovable.