Here’s a brief list of Fighting Game terminology you should know; For a larger dictionary, go to Shoryuken.com.
Cancel: A cancel is when you literally cancel a move by quickly inputting a different move during the animation of the first move. This is used to extend combos.
Whiff: A whiff is a missed attack, often referred to when someone misses with a Super move.
Recovery: Recovery refers to the recovery frames of animation after an attack is performed. Light attacks have very little recovery, and are easier to throw out and combo together. Heavier attacks have longer recovery and can be punished if whiffed or thrown out carelessly.
Punish: To punish means to take advantage of your opponents missed or blocked attack by attacking during their recovery or even start-up animation.
Start-Up Frames: Literally the frames of start-up animation before an attack will hit an opponents. Some moves have lots up start-up that an opponent can interrupt the attack and punish you hard, so most attacks with long start-up are best performed mid combo, often after a long launch or bounce.
Footsies: Footsies is the game of positioning within the game of fighting. Characters work better at various ranges, so each opponent tries to force each other into their own comfort zones.