43 'Canadian Slang Words' Translated For Americans
A list for our friends to the south!
Language is a beautiful thing. And even though English is spoken all over the world, every place manages to put their own spin on it.
English in Britain or Australia is very different than in the U.S. or Canada.
Here are some of our favourite Canadian slang words and some definitions to help out any new arrivals, American or otherwise.
As a Canadian, too, you may find some of these definitions or origins enlightening or surprising! So take a look!
TL;DR Welcome to Canada, land of poutine and... gotchies? Take a look below at some of the most priceless Canadian slang words and where they came from.
Let us know which one of these surprised you the most.
Underwear. From the Ukranian word for underwear "gatky". Also: ginch(ies) or gonch(ies).
A type of knit hat with no brim, worn in the winter time. Or all year round by hipsters.
Cowboy boots or other boots you don't mind ruining if it gets muddy at Osheaga.
A largely Saskatchewan-based term for a hooded sweatshirt that has a front pocket and no zipper. Origins of the terms are unclear, though it could be traced back to a dance of the same name.
Kilometres. Used by dads everywhere to sound cool.
Literally, anything that is tippy.
i.e: "Careful, that chair is a real tippy canoe."
Can also be used to refer to a joint that "canoeing," aka burning unevenly and therefore running the risk of tipping all the goods out.
No longer hungry, full, satisfied.
i.e: "After that poutine, I'm sufficiently sophonsified."
A spacial reference often used to describe the location of a house or business that is diagonally across from another reference point.
i.e: "I bought my shit-kickers at the store kitty-corner to the LCBO."
Used in many ways and easily translated as "Pardon?" or "Wouldn't you agree?"
Much like the British usage, which can be interpreted as "very," "undeniably" or "decidedly."
i.e: "He was right wasted last night."
Can be interpreted as "nice," "awesome," or simply a good person.
i.e: "He's such a beauty, he brought over a mickey and two-four last night."
Jesus' Irish cousin? Who knows. Used much like the classic use of the Lord's name in vain. Can imply frustration or fear.
Literally "Get her done," where "her" can be anything you are trying to finish, whether it's a beer or a physical task.
Literally, "give her," again where "her" a task that needs to be done with gusto. "Her" can also refer to anything with a motor.
i.e: "Once we were on the rural roads, I told him to give'r."
Worst Case Ontario
Meaning "worst-case scenario," coined by Ricky from the Canadian classic Trailer Park Boys.
Get two birds stoned at once
Another classic Rickyism meant to imply, "Kill two birds with one stone."
Fill yer boots
Largely East Coast slang for "go for it," "help yourself" or "enjoy yourself."
Fell down, slipped, ate shit.
i.e: Pierre biffed it on the way to the dep yesterday."
Abbreviation of the word "depanneur." The Quebec version of a corner store or convenience store.
The word originates from the word "la panne" which means breakdown. A repairman is a "depanneur," so the corner store is kinda like the repairman for whatever problem you need a quick fix for.
Hungry? The dep can fix that. Ran out of darts or need a two-four? The dep can fix that, too. Ain't much a dep can't fix.
Canada has a weird relationship with booze. Every province works a little differently, with several provinces having some kind of provincially regulated Liquor Commission (LC).
There's the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) in BC, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission (NSLC), and la Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ)... not to be confused with la SAAQ, which gives out drivers licenses.
So if you've ever heard someone saying they're going to the "Sack" or the "Lick-bo"... this is what they're talking about.
A coffee from Tim Horton's with two sugars and two creams. Can be made with milk, but you'd better ask... and, yes, we all know at least one person that gets triple-triples.
A twenty-four pack of beer.
Not to be confused with May 2-4, the May long weekend that celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria... where you're definitely encouraged to crush a two-four.
A 375 mL bottle of liquor, often shaped like a flask.
True story: last time I went through airport security, I forgot I had a can of pop in my carry-on bag. When it got pulled aside, I realised what I had done.
"Sorry," I said, "I forgot I had a can of pop in there."
"A what?" asked the security agent.
"Oh, I thought you said a can of pot."
Which would have been fine. The pop? Not so much.
In other countries, these childhood summer treats are called ice pops or freeze pops. Not to be confused with something on a stick, these icy treats come in those little plastic tubes that threaten to slice the corners of your mouth with every bite.
An East Coast post-bar delicacy, much like a shawarma pita but with a sickly-sweet garlic sauce.
If you order garlic dipping sauce with your pizza out East and you think you're getting a Pizza Pizza-like savoury garlic dip... you're not. You're getting donair sauce. You have been warned.
Jelly-filled donuts or timbits.
The original "donut hole," made by the famous Candian coffee house Tim Horton's (aka Timmies).
These suckers are a dream come true to little house league hockey players nationwide. Also, an elementary school birthday staple, where for whatever reason the person who is celebrating a birthday buys the donuts for the rest of the class...
Not to be confused with British french fries and ketchup, these Lays classics are a Canadian staple found in nearly every dep or convenience store across the country. If you're a fan of all-dressed, you gotta try these.
An abbreviation of the word "les habitants," the French word for French Canadian settlers and inhabitants of present-day Quebec. The term is now used to refer to the Montreal Canadiens hockey club.
Canada's military aerobatics/air show flight demonstration team made up of 11 jet trainer airplanes.
Also Canadians, often retirees, who fly south and leave Canada for Florida or Arizona during the winter months. (Why we don't call them Canada Geese I'll never understand.)
People who spend most of their life at a hockey rink, whether they play hockey or not.
Girls who frequent a hockey rink, whether they play hockey or not.
Someone from Halifax. Otherwise, any Torontonian who studied at Dal and now considers themselves an honourary Haligonian.
Becoming Halifamous means the Halifax community at large knows who you are because you opened a coffee shop or a pizza shop (or both), but the rest of the country has no sweet clue who you are.
A member of the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The municipal government.
Loonie & Toonie
The actual official names for our one and two dollar coins. Loonie comes from the loon on the one-dollar coin. Toonie comes from... well, it's worth two bucks!
Dollars. From Canada's history with the fur trade, if something was worth two bucks it literally meant you were trading two bucks.
Thanks to Drake, Toronto is known world-over as "The Six," though the origins of this reference are often debated. The most common assumption is that the number refers to the 6 boroughs that were amalgamated to create the City of Toronto.
Calgary, Alberta, known for their world-class Stampede and beef production.
Winnipeg, known for their mosquitos.
British Columbia, evidently the California of Canada.
Well, what'd I miss? I'd love to hear your obscure and bizarre Canadian slang words, as well as their origins. Hit me up on Twitter, @lvbs.