January 25, 2021 / by Amy Gray

A Guide To Canadian Slang

A Guide To Canadian Slang

Ah, Canadian slang. It is as perplexing as this beautiful country is.

Canada is a land of wonders. Its stunning landscape can’t be beat, the people are kind, and it’s a beautiful place to live, but navigating the language landscape in Canada can be a real challenge to people who have learned English elsewhere.

Technically, Canada has two official languages: English and French. But most people don’t stop to think that Canadian slang might be a language in its own right since it’s an essential part of living in the Great White North!

Here’s a handy Canadian slang guide so you can get to practicing your English and sounding like a local.

Cool, eh? Let’s giv’r!

The first thing to consider is that Canadians use Canadian-specific words. One example that always makes me laugh is pop! As in, ‘Do you want a pop with your burger or poutine?’

Once it’s put into context, I’m sure you’ve figured out I’m talking about soda. Here are some other examples of Canadian-specific words that have been compiled by the Calgary Eyeopener. The words on the left are Canadian words. The words on the right are used elsewhere, including America.

  • Chocolate bar — Candy bar
  • Brown bread — Wheat bread
  • Toque — A knitted cap Americans call beanies
  • Runners — Sneaker/tennis shoes/trainers
  • Robertson screwdriver  — Square head
  • Housecoat — Robe
  • Keener — Brown noser/suck up
  • Pablum — Baby food (pablum was invented by a Canadian pediatrician)
  • Freezies ​(Delicious frozen treat) — Otter pops/freeze pops
  • Stagette —​ Bachelorette or hen party
  • Gotch/ginch/gonch — Briefs
  • Serviette — Napkin
  • Parkade — Parking garage
  • Eavestroughs  — Gutter
  • Pencil crayon —​ Coloured pencil
  • Give’r — Go hard
  • All dressed (chip flavour with all the fixings)  — The works
  • Bachelor apartment — Studio apartment
  • Donair — Gyro
  • Icing sugar — Powdered sugar or confectioners sugar
  • Fire hall — Fire station or firehouse
  • Two-four — Case of beer
  • Hoser – a foolish or uncultivated person.
  • Loonie and Toonie – Canadian 1 and 2 dollar coins, respectively
  • Poutine – popular Canadian dish of french fries, beef gravy and cheese curds
  • Washroom – as opposed to saying “bathroom”

Now, let’s talk about our favorite Canadian slang word in Canada, eh!

There are many ways to express yourself with eh. Most Canadians use it as an expression or a question. This term is pronounced as ‘ay’ and it’s often used to show that you don’t understand something, can’t believe it, or you might even hear it as ‘How’s it going, eh?’ (This means HOW ARE YOU?)

It can also be used as Huh? Right! What? And pretty much everything else.

The many uses of “eh”

Aside from turning a thought into a question, “eh” can also be used:

  1. To state an opinion – For example: “That was a great hockey game, eh?”
  2. As exclamation or to express surprise – “There’s no poutine left, eh?” “The store’s closed today! EH?”
  3. To state a request or command – “You can put it there, eh.
  4. To confirm (or soften) a criticism – “You were wrong on that one, eh!”
  5. As the narrative “eh” – It can also be used in telling a story and encourages the person who is listening to engage in the conversation. “So I went to the rink, eh? And they had the zamboni out and I had to wait 15 minutes, so I went to get a double double. By the time I came back the ice was clear. Wish they’d announce ice cleaning times. I woulda come in a little bit later.

Here are a few more words we think it’s essential for everyone to know:

Double double: When you go to Tim Horton’s and order a double double, you’re ordering a a Tim Hortons favorite: regular coffee with two creams and two sugars. 

Timmies: What Canadians call Tim Horton’s.

Beauty or Beaut: This is an expression Canadians use to say that something has been done well. “That’s a beauty of a shine on your car.” Or you can use it to refer to someone who has done something kind for you, such as, “Drew brought some Double-Doubles for us. What a beaut!” Or “What a beauty!

Snowbirds: Snowbirds are Canadians who go south for the winter.

Canucks: A slang term for Canadians. “Those crazy Canucks always know how to have fun.” (It’s true. We do!)


Canadian Slang for Weather in Canada

Finally, here are some terms that explain all kinds of weather in Canada:

Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis

Beautiful shimmering, pulsating lights that can be seen in the sky on cold, clear winter nights in countries in middle to higher latitudes like Canada.

Jet stream

This is band of strong winds that extends for hundreds of kilometers and the exceed 400 kilometers per hour. The jet stream in Canada travels mostly west to east at 9,000 meters.

Ice fog

Ice-crystal fog, frozen fog, and frost fog. This type of fog usually happens at temperatures of below -30°C in clear, calm weather in high latitudes in Northern Canada.

Ice pellets

Frozen rain drops what bounce when they hit a hard surface. Americans call this sleet.

By the way, did you check out our article on 12 Canadian Ice Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss?

Indian summer

Sunny , dry and warm days during Autumn that are precededd by snow, frost or cold weather.

Hail

A lump of ice which forms during a thunderstorm. Hailstones in Canada can range from the size of peas to baseballs. Some have even gotten as big as the size of a grapefruit. If the weather channel is calling for hail, stay home.

Frost

Water vapour that changes into a solid without becoming a liquid when it touches the surface of an object, like a windowpane. A killing frost will end harvest season.

Flurries

Flurries or snow flurries are just like a rainstorm, only it happens in the winter. Freezing rain or drizzle occurs when cold, hard rain falls and hits objects causing icy roads and sidewalks.

Ice Storm

Ice storms happen frequently in Canada. These happen with freezing rain. Ice builds up on trees, power lines, and roads and wreaks havoc everywhere. The ice builds up in layers and weighs down everything it builds up on. It’s not uncommon to see trees snapped in half during ice storms because of the weight of ice on them. (It’s also very beautiful.)

Frost quake

Southern Ontario gets hit with frost quakes after ice storms. This happens when the ground becomes too wet and then freezes suddenly. The water has nowhere to go, and it results in loud cracks that can be heard as rock and soil crack from the pressure.

Polar vortex

A dreaded word in Canada, people hate to hear about polar vortexes. Polar vortexes usually stay in the Arctic, but when this mass of frigid Arctic air moves south, it brings temperatures of -20 C or colder and wind chills near -50 C. You don’t want to be caught outside during a polar vortex. This type of weather brings Canadians and Americans to their knees. Stay home.

Groundhog Day

Canadians wait for February 2 every year to listen to the groundhog.

The groundhog is our official weather counter. They tell us if the winter is going to last longer or if spring is on the way. If your local groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow, he’ll scurry back down into his burrow and winter will continue for at least six more weeks. If he does not see his shadow and stays outside, that means winter is almost over.

Don’t forget to check out the Canadian government’s website page on weather terms.