From A to Zed
Canadian-English and Canadian-French both have unique words from the mother languages. Often times this was borne of our vast wilderness or unique, winter-bound society. Canada being such a large country, we also have a lot of regional words. Enjoy learning about Canadian words and add your own in the comments!
Back bacon: also known as peameal bacon because the cured bacon was coated with yellow peas as a preservative. We use cornmeal nowadays. A staple of many a winter breakfast in Canada.
Caesar: a popular cocktail, similar to a Bloody Mary, but with clamato juice instead of tomato juice.
Chesterfield: a brand-name that became the Canadian word for couch. Less and less popular nowadays. Time to bring it back!
Chinook winds: strong winds blowing down the Rockies into southern Alberta.
(Ketchup) (All-Dressed) Chips: styles of potato chip that are popular in Canada but mostly unknown outside our borders.
Corner store: Canadians tend to use corner store instead of convenience store like in the States. Also, made famous by the comedy Corner Gas.
Deke: A maneuver in hockey where the player in possession of the puck feints one direction to get his opponent out of position.
e.g. the player with the puck dekes right, the goalie goes in that direction, and the player quickly goes left and shoots at the open net).
Donair: Donair is the Canadian version of doner kebab and is based around the Mediterranean immigrant communities that came to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Double-Double: the double-double at Tim Horton’s (but really any Canadian coffee place will know what you’re talking about) is any sized coffee with two cream, two sugar. You need lots of calories to get through the winter.
Eavestroughs: Canadian for rain gutter. Eaves being the underpart of the roof that extends beyond the building and troughs being a long container, like animals drink/eat out of.
Eh: the ubiquitous Canadian word that can mean a million different things. Well, not really, but a lot of things.
e.g. a filler word like umm – I was down at the rink eh and the Zamboni burst into flames.
e.g. asking for an opinion or response – We could always go grab a double-double at Timmies eh?
Fifty (English) / Cinquante (French): Labatt 50, a mass produced ale for when there’s no craft beer around and you don’t want a lager.
Garburator: A more elegant, retro-techno word for garbage disposal unit.
Give’r, Giv’n’r: The all-purpose motivational made famous by the Fubar movies. Gotta win that hockey game? Give’r! Snowmobile stuck in a bank? I’m giv’n’r!!!
Homo milk: one of the favourite words of immature Canadian boys everywhere. The homo standards for homogenized. This is why no one takes us seriously.
Hoser: a silly person. Used mostly ironically to seem overly Canadian – thanks to SCTV’s Bob & Doug McKenzie.
Housecoat: a bathrobe, typically worn by Canadian women. I guess we think houses are cooler than baths.
Hydro: used by Canadians to refer to utilities or electricity because so much of our early power was hydro (and a lot of it still is depending on where you live). Even non-hydroelectric electricity is often referred to as hydro.
KD: Kraft Dinner, one of the many comfort foods that Canadians enjoy.
Keener: Canadians typically follow the tall poppy syndrom of commonwealth and northern European countries where showing off and sucking up are seen as obscene. A keener is just a little too keen.
Loonie: the glorious name of the Canadian dollar, in honour of the sneakiest of birds, the loon!
Mickey: a 375ml bottle of liquor.
Parkade: Parking complex.
Pencil crayon: for some reason, this is what we call coloured pencils
Pogey: slang for employment insurance. More common referred to as EI now for Employment Insurance, which used to be called Unemployment Insurance (UI), but seems to have been changed to not make anyone feel bad.
e.g. He lost his job eh and now he’s on the pogey.
Pop: Like the US midwest, a lot of Canadians say pop instead of soda or soft drinks.
Shinny: an impromptu game of hockey on the street with a ball or on an amateur rink with no real equipment to speak of.
Skidoo/Skidooing: This is the Kleenex of Canada. Basically, we often refer to snowmobiles by the Bombardier brand-name.
Snowbird: One of three things. Either 1) a retiree who winters in a tropical locale 2) One of Canada’s elite acrobatic pilots that performs on Canada Day 3) A lovely song by Gene MacLellan made famous by Anne Murray’s recording.
Stubby: Traditional Canadian-style beer bottles. A lower surface area to volume ratio means that the beer retains cold for longer. The superior bottles were replaced by American imperialism into our beer market, but the tide is turning as craft beer makers return to our heritage.
Tim Horton’s (aka Timmies): Where Canadians go for coffee in a pinch. The glue that binds our TransCanada Highway together. You can get Timbits there, which are balls of fried dough.
Toboggan: a traditional aboriginal sled used nowadays mostly by kids for sledding down a hill
Toonie: The fancier cousin of the loonie with a silver band for the outer rim and a polar bear in place of a loon. Came into being with our latest territory, Nunavut.
Tuque: A cap to keep your head warm during the worst of the Canadian winters. There are plenty of nicely designed tuques, but the key is function over form.
Twenty-Sixer: a 26oz bottle of liquor. Smaller brother to the Forty (although, that term is more synonymous with hiphop and malt liquor bottles).
Two-four (usually pronounced twofur): A 24 case of beer. Twofurs are necessary for any Canadian event like cottaging or hockey. The term lends itself to May Two-Four Weekend aka Victoria Day, which is Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24. The long weekend is often celebrated at cottages or gardening since it’s the unofficial start of planting season in Canada. Due to animosity towards the Crown and all things British, Québec francophones celebrate instead la Journée nationale des patriotes in honour of the rebels who fought for representative government during the Lower Canada Rebellion.
Washroom: instead of restroom, bathroom, toilet or lavatory, Canadians typically use washroom.
Zed: Z is pronounced zed, not zee north of the 49th parallel and by Canadians everywhere.
Joual: working-class Montreal accent
Francophone Canada (including Quebec):
Beavertail: The perfect combo of fat and carbs of fried dough with cinnamon and sugar on top.
Jos Louis: Canada’s answer to the twinky. A round fluffy chocolate cake with a cream filling. Mainly associated with Quebec.
Maple everything: Try as we might, most of our climate is ill-suited to growing sweet foods. The maple tree really saved our cuisine. Companies tend to maple-ize whatever products they can to pull at our patriotic heart strings.
Nanaimo Bars: Arguably the greatest dessert in the world. Layers of goodness.
Potato chips: Usually it’s the States that one-up us and the rest of the world in variety, be it the countless varieties of cereal or what have you. One area we might have them beat is in the potato chip category where Canada has a long tradition of flavours such as Ketchup, Dill and All-Dressed. More recently, we’ve seen flavours like Poutine and curry.
Poutine: Goes without saying this is a strong competitor for our national dish. Curds, fries and gravy build that sweet sweet marbling into Canadian bodies to keep us warm through commuting and winter sports.
Grey jay (aka Perisoreus canadensis, whiskey jack, Canada jay): Everyone knows the blue jay but not enough know about the Canada jay! It even has the cool nickname of Whiskey Jack from a corruption of the aboriginal word for the trickster bird. It’s now officially the Canadian national bird after a competition held by Canadian Geographic.
This list is constantly evolving – email your suggestions to SneakyLoon@gmail.com!