I originally compiled this list of Canadian English for a workshop I did recently for an organization that helps new immigrants settle and learn job skills, but I also think this list is great for people that visit Canada for business or pleasure. I know there are words and phrases that I’ve missed, and there may be some regional disagreements with this list, but it should serve it’s purpose, and maybe even generate some fun discussion that leads to a deeper understanding of Canadian language and culture. Enjoy!
“Aboot” – Despite what American T.V. and films suggest, we do not mispronounce “about” like this. Maybe 2% of the population might, but as a general rule – nope.
Can – instead of washroom, bathroom, toilet, lavatory, WC, loo, etc.
Canuck – A slang term for a Canadian, but we don’t take offense!
Chocolate bar – instead of candy bar.
Double-double – a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars. ‘Tim Hortons’ coffee shop lingo. If you want just one cream and one sugar, you have to ask for “regular”.
Eh? Said often to get agreement, clarification or confirmation. Americans say “huh?”
Hoodie – A hooded sweatshirt.
Hogtown – old name for Toronto. The kids say T.O. or T-dot.
Homo milk – whole milk with a fat content greater than 2%, usually 3.25%.
Hoser – Nickname for a blue-collar Canadian popularized by Bob and Doug Mackenzie characters from SCTV and “Strange Brew”. Not generally spoken these days.
Hydro – synonym for electrical service, as in “Did you pay the hydro (bill) yet?”
Inuit – our Northern natives/aboriginals. We don’t call them “Eskimos”.
Joe Blow – Means any random person, like John Q. Public or any Tom, Dick or Harry.
Keener – an “eager beaver”, someone who is diligent and works (too) hard!
KD – Kraft Dinner – macaroni and cheese in a box. Americans call is “Mac N’ Cheese”.
Line-up – instead of saying “line” or “queue”. Used as a compound noun and verb.
Loonie – Canadian one dollar coin, that has a picture of a loon (bird) on it.
Mickey – no, not the mouse. This is the name for the small, pocket-sized bottle of booze.
Newfie – a person from Newfoundland, that tends to be the brunt of a lot of jokes. In today’s politically correct world, this is considered insulting and no longer acceptable to use.
Pissed – can mean angry or drunk.
Pogey – old name for (un)employment insurance given by the government.
Pop – Instead of “soda pop” or “soda”. Also slang for beer, made popular by Hockey Night in Canada personality Don Cherry on The Coach’s Corner.
Poutine – french fries topped with cheese curd and covered with hot gravy.
Puck-Bunny – a girl that likes hockey players, as in a “groupie”.
Runners – running shoes. We don’t often say “tennis shoes”, “trainers”, “sneakers” or “joggers”.
Shinny – means pond, river or street hockey. A.K.A. a game of pick-up.
Ski-Doo – used generically to refer to any snowmobile.
Snowbird – a Canadian who spends the winter in the south, like in Florida. This is also the name of our national team of airplanes that perform at air shows.
Timbits – donut holes sold at Tim Hortons or “Timmy’s”. By the way, Tim Horton was an ex-NHL hockey player who started the first Tim Hortons shop in 1964 in Hamilton.
Toboggan – What we call our sleds and sleighs that we ride down the snowhill.
Toonie – the Canadian two-dollar coin. Two loonies equal a toonie!
Toque – a knitted winter hat.
26er – 26 imperial fluid oz alcohol – the big bottle!
2-4 – “two four”- a box containing 24 beer.
Washroom – commonly used instead of saying bathroom, lavatory, WC, loo, etc.
Zed – the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced “zed” instead of “zee”.