Understanding Canadian Slang
In Canada we have enough to do keeping up with two spoken languages without trying to invent slang, so we just go right ahead and use English for literature, Scottish for sermons and American for conversation. -- Stephen Leacock
Canadians are proud of their cultural heritage and linguistic diversity. To express their unique heritage, there are a number of words that are uniquely Canadian.
Note that not all Canadians use all of these terms. This guide is intended to prepare you to know what these terms mean if you hear them; it does not guarantee that these terms will be understood everywhere in Canada.
Become familiar with the following general terms:
- Loonie - A common word for the Canadian one-dollar coin.
- Toonie - A common word for the Canadian two-dollar coin, pronounced "too-nee."
- Garberator- Electric grinding device meant for the drain of a kitchen sink, to finely grind biodegradable substances, so they can be washed down the drain. Commonly referred to in the US as a "garbage disposal."
- Kerfuffle - Similar to brouhaha; a chaotic situation which is usually negative in nature; a loud or heated dispute.
- Homo Milk - A commoner's slang for homogenized whole milk; 3% milk.
- Beauty - An expression used to refer to something done well or someone who is exceptional. The vast majority of Canadians only know the term from the SCTV characters Bob and Doug, in a series of satirical sketch comedies entitled, "The Great White North."
- Double-Double - Said when ordering a coffee; indicating two creams and two sugars.
- Timmy's or Tim's or Timmy Ho's or Up the Horton's - Slang for Tim Horton's, a chain of doughnut and coffee shops named after a famous hockey player.
- Brutal- Something excessively harsh or unfair. ex. "Oh man, that fall was brutal."
- Serviette - A paper napkin. Not slang, simply 'napkin' in French.
- Gorp - Trail mix, taken on hiking/camping trips. May include assorted nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, Smarties or other candies. (used at least in BC). Actually an acronym from "Good Old Raisins and Peanuts".
- "'Scoff- used mainly on the east coast to describe a large meal. e.g a pot-luck dinner could be a scoff.
- Eh - (pronounced "ey", as in "hey" or "hay") A suffix some Canadians add to the ends of sentences, to ask for a response of agreement or disagreement, similar in meaning to "don't you think" or "right?"(Similar to the word "Huh?" Used in the states.) (eg. "Looks like a storm comin' in, eh?"). It is a way of being polite - to ensure that the other people in the conversation are feeling included. It is also sometimes used with "I know," as in, "Wow, the Calgary Flames really kicked butt tonight!" -"I know, eh?"
- Two-Four - A blue-collar term for a case of twenty-four beers.
- Fifty and Cinquante - Labatt 50, a Canadian brand of beer. Cinquante is fifty in French. This term is limited to frequent beer drinkers. Canadians who don't drink beer frequently would not know this "term" at all.
- Mickey - A flask-sized bottle of hard liquor.
- Toque - (pronounced "tuke," like Luke) A knit cap usually worn in winter. Known as a Ski Cap in the USA.
- Toboggan - A long, typically wooden, sled, used in winter recreation, to carry one or more people down a snow-covered hill.
- Klick- A slang term for "kilometer".
- Hydro- A reference to electricity, not water. Synonymous with electrical service in provinces where most of the power is supplied through hydroelectricity. "The hydro is out," means there's no power, not that there's no water. This phrase extends to things like 'hydro poles,' 'hydro wires,' and having a 'hydro bill.'
- Peameal or Back bacon - Bacon obtained from the flesh of the back of a pig, rather than the more common side bacon. It is pickled in brine and then rolled in cornmeal. Originally, peameal was used, but it was found to go rancid, so cornmeal was substituted. But the name "peameal" stuck.
- The States - The United States of America is often referred to as "the States," except in writing, when it becomes "the US."
- Washroom - Refers to a place where one would find the toilet, sink, and bath tub.
- Pop - Many Canadians use the term "pop" to describe sweet, carbonated beverages.(Soda in the states.)
- Rattled - When someone is embarrassed or angry. A term hardly unique to Canada.
- Snake - Someone who is unkind or does something in the interest of themselves. Portraying snake like qualities.
- Chinook - (Pronounced "shinook" in some areas) A warm, dry wind blowing down the eastern slopes of the Rockies across Alberta and the prairies. Chinooks can cause the temperature to rise by 20°F to 40°F within 15 minutes.
- Poutine - (pronounced poo-TEEN) French fries served with cheese curds, and covered in gravy. Originated in Quebec but now prevalent across Canada.(Awesome delicious heart attack in a bowl. You aren't Canadian until you've played some hockey and stopped for some poutine and beer.)
- Sook, sookie or sookie baby - Oftens means a weak, self-pitying person; a person who won't go along, especially out of spite; a crybaby or sore loser. Can also be a term of endearment for pets or children who are extremely affectionate. Pronounced to rhyme with "took" in Atlantic Canada. In Ontario, they pronounce and spell it "suck" but use it in the same ways.
- Beaver Tail - A pastry, most commonly sold by the chain Beaver Tail Canada Inc., indicating a flat, flaky, fried pastry in the general shape of a beaver's tail. It is often served with a variety of toppings: ice-cream, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and fruits. Originated in Ottawa.
- Pencil Crayon - a coloured pencil
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