Well…what do you think, is it paddle boarding or paddleboarding? One word or two? And, for that matter, is it a paddle board or paddleboard? After you’ve read this, will you grab your standup paddle board and go standup paddleboarding? Or are you going to grab your stand up paddleboard and go stand-up paddle boarding? Does it matter? Does it make a difference? By now do you even care?

Well Google does (or at least is trying not to) and so should you.

Let us explain.

What is stand up paddle boarding or paddleboarding?

A man at sea on a paddle board

Is it this?

A woman and a cat on a paddle board

Surely not this?

Humour us. Open a new browser tab, go to Google and type in the EXACT phrase below, including the spaces,

what is stand up paddle boarding?

Now have a look at the results. Notice anything?

It’s a mess, right?

There’s no agreement. All those websites seem to have done is taken the 4 words, “stand” +”up”+”paddle”+”boarding” and gone with whatever they felt like that day. Some have spaces, some don’t. Some are hyphenated, some aren’t.

Now open another browser tab, go to Google and type the following including spaces,

what is stand up paddleboarding?

Now flick between the two tabs. Look at the websites that show in the results. They’re not the same are they? Most of them are, but one or two different ones will have crept into the search results.


Well, deciding whether it’s “stand up paddle boarding” or “stand up paddleboarding” might not be at all important to you but, when you’re trying to write about your experience from a beginner’s perspective on a brand new website, it’s the kind of thing you have to think about.


Well, for the sake of correctness for one. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly the first time. That’s what we believe. And, if you’ve read any of our obsessively thorough blog posts such as:

how to get stuck SUP paddles apart,


how to find the right paddle length for you, you’ll know exactly what we mean by that.

For us, though, it’s about communication. If you believe you have something to say that might be of value to lots of other people in the same position as you, you not only want it to be correct, you want it to reach as many of those people as possible.

And, the uncertainty over whether we should use paddle boarding or paddleboarding makes it difficult to do that.

So, paddle boarding or paddleboarding? Why should you care?


“Paddle boarding” or “paddleboarding”, as language phrases, are toddlers when it comes to their place in the world of the written word. And that’s the problem.

In comparison to hundreds of thousands of well-matured, commonly used words and phrases, “stand up paddleboarding” and its word combinations is barely out of junior school. Nobody knows what to make of them or how they’re going to turn out.

Subsequently, at the moment, opinions are all over the place.

  • You’ll read about people doing it stand-up, standup AND stand up.
  • You’ll see images of people paddleboarding AND paddle boarding.
  • You’ll find out they’re paddleboarders AND paddle boarders
  • You’ll discover they’re having great fun on their paddleboards AND paddle boards.

And don’t get us started on the abbreviation SUP!

For paddleboarding pedants (like me), it’s annoying to say the least. It means we can’t be sure we’re reaching who we want to reach. But, more importantly, it also means YOU can’t be sure you’re finding what you want to find.

So, where do we turn if we want definitive answers?

Ironically, to the very place that is struggling to provide them.

Help, Google! I’ve fallen off my paddle board


When you need information about something these days, rather than reach for a 6 inch thick encyclopedia, chances are you’ll just ask your knowledgeable friend, Google.

Each year, as it grows, Google is trying to be ever more friendly and helpful to everybody. It wants to be the definitive solution for all of your information needs. So much so that, sometimes, it can end up watering down or misconstruing your search intentions entirely.

A misplaced letter or two isn’t a problem for it – Google can easily manage and ignore misspellings most of the time. However, when it comes to having to tackle two or more different words that, on their own, have multiple meanings and user search intent, it gets tricky.

For example,

  • “Paddle boarding” or “paddleboarding” is a verb – an action, a doing thing. But, it’s ALSO a noun – the SPORT of “paddle boarding” or “paddleboarding”
  • “Paddle board” is a noun (an object) and ALSO a verb – to “paddle board”

Whether separate, combined, or in combination with other words such as “stand” and “up” it can all get very confusing very quickly.

Google, of course, has enormous resources and computing power and is easily the most knowledgeable thing on the planet. It records and learns from everything typed into it. Yet, it can still struggle. Especially when what people are searching for is relatively new – like the sport of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Note: When we say relatively new we mean in relation to the general public and its interests. Stand up paddleboarding as an activity is likely to be far older than its modern surfing origins suggest. 

However, standup paddleboarding as something that the general public is interested in and, therefore Google is too, IS something new. As far as Google is concerned, it’s an interesting snippet of gossip worth keeping its algorithms on.

And, it’s had its ear to the wall for a while. 

So, which is it – “paddle boarding” or “paddleboarding”? Just ask Google Ngram

Google Ngram Viewer, according to Wikipedia is

an online search engine that charts the frequencies of any set of search strings using a yearly count of n-grams found in sources printed between 1500 and 2019

Put simply, Google Ngrams counts how often certain exact phrases have occurred in its enormous (and ever increasing) library of the written word. Trawling through books and publications written over the period 1500 – 2019, it provides a window into the past and gives us insight into the possible future trends of certain words and phrases.

It’s fascinating to use. If you want to have a go at using ngrams, here are Google’s instructions.

So, what can it tell us about…

“paddle boarding or paddleboarding”?


We can probably hazard a guess by looking at that other closely related water sport – Surfing.

Surfing, or riding the waves on a board or other buoyant object, isn’t a child of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s origins are far older. Records of Peruvian fishermen surfing the waves go back thousands of years.

In recorded/written history, surfing has had a lot longer for its associated vocabulary to mature. In comparison to a paddle board, a surfboard has reached adulthood. And Google knows it.

Type the phrase “is it surf board or surfboard?” into Google and it doesn’t even actually entertain your question. The most popular spelling is the one it delivers.

There is a smattering of “surf board” two word results on page 2 onwards, but the overall consensus is it’s definitely “Surfboard”.

Not only does Google know it, it can show you HOW it knows it too. The screenshot above is taken from a Google Ngram search for the words/phrases “surfboard” and “surf board”. As you can see, over time, surfboard (the red line) emerges as a clear winner over surf board (the blue line).

So, what does it say about “paddle board” or “paddleboard”?  


As you can see from the chart, aside from a period in the 1830’s -40’s when paddle steamers using paddle boards were first introduced, paddleboard appears more frequently than paddle board in written records. Especially since the year 2000 onwards.

If we look at “paddle boarding” vs “paddleboarding” …


“paddleboarding” is again a clear winner.

But, as per usual, things are never just as simple as that.  Google has another tool called Google Trends that shows the exact words users are typing into its search engine. Since 2004 it’s been recording these searches and plotting their trends.

It reveals another side to the story. 

Which is trendier “paddle boarding” or “paddleboarding”?

Which is more fashionable amongst internet users? Here’s the Google trends chart of “paddle board” vs “paddleboard”.


And below is the chart for “paddle boarding” vs “paddleboarding”.


As you can see, “paddle board” and “paddle boarding”, represented by the blue lines, are far more popular search terms than “paddleboard” and “paddleboarding”, represented by the red.

Which is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Google Ngrams showed us earlier. That’s quite a difference.

So, what does the future look like for paddle boarding or paddleboarding?

At the moment, there’s no easy answer. According to Google Ngram Viewer, it looks like written history is beginning to favour “paddleboarding”. According to Google Trends, it’s the opposite.

Which is annoying and unhelpful and is the reason why, on this website, when we talk about paddle boarding, we’re going to mix it up a little depending on how we feel that day. Just like everybody else does. Just to get in front of as many stand up (standup, stand-up) paddleboarders (paddle boarders) as possible. You can thank us for it later.

At some point, however, Google WILL make a choice. We won’t be asking the question is it paddleboarding or paddle boarding? It will favour one or the other, because we as users did too. Overtime, we will slowly come to a consensus and Google will too.

Until that day, if you see us out on the water, just remember…it might look like “paddle boarding”, but we’re probably “paddleboarding”…just so you know!

Either way, we’ll be having damn good FUN!