run into the surf

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jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
When I was about fifteen, the age when I was just starting to worry whether a girl would ever deign to sleep with me, I saw these three girls sun-baking down at DeeWhy. They were probably about eighteen, and they were gorgeous. <…> I was giving them the surreptitious once-over from behind my reflective Miami Vice shades, when all of a sudden the three of them jumped up and ran down into the surf. They got to about their knees in the water and then they dived under at exactly the same moment.
Source: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

When you run into the surf, you are wading into the foam of the swell that broke on the shore, right?

Thank you,
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There’s nothing unusual about that use of “run down” into the surf. It’s just meant literally in this instance.
     

    jacdac

    Senior Member
    Lebanese
    Thank you. I meant to question the parlance of the noun surf as used in this phrase.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There's nothing unusual or strange about the usage, jacdac: it's just more specific than "ran into the sea".
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It could be said by anybody who talks about 'surf'. I am not one of those people, because I have never lived in a place where people 'go surfing' or 'surf' on surf boards.
    I've always known the word 'surf', but only as a description of a sort of wave.

    To me, talking about 'running into the surf' is culture specific. It immediately suggests California or some other American place where people surf. There are some places with Atlantic coasts in the UK where people 'surf'.
    All the same I think most British people would say ran into the sea or into the waves. The 'surf' is not where the waves break on the shore! My understanding is that it means where the waves break. which might be some distance from the shore. Otherwise people couldn't 'surf'. They'd be flat on their faces.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The surf is the whole area where the waves are breaking - from where they start breaking to the shoreline. It advances and recedes continuously. New waves are breaking as old ones are receding. They ran down into that area and when they reached a part that was deep enough, they dove in. If they had stood there ten more seconds it might not have been deep enough any more. Twenty seconds later it might have been twice as deep.
     
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