Things Canadian Say: Canadian Slang You Need to Know
20 June, 2023
6 mins read
One of the best parts of being an international student is getting to know a whole new culture and experiencing its traditions. However, even if you are proficient in English, you might be faced with some challenges in understanding the slang used in each country. The slang used in Canada is different than that of the UK and Australia. Canada is a vast and diverse country known for its friendly people, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural identity.
As you venture into the Great White North, you may find yourself encountering a colourful array of Canadian slang and expressions. Canada is one of the English-speaking countries that might seem to have the same slang as the USA, but it’s actually quite different. So, as an international student, if you want to immerse yourself in your new home, get to know all about the interesting things Canadians say and popular Canadian slang words.
To help you navigate these linguistic nuances, we've compiled a comprehensive guide to Canadian slang that will make you feel right at home in conversations with Canucks from coast to coast. Get ready to feel at home in Canada with this essential Canadian slang primer. Come on, let’s jump right in!
Canadian Slang to Know
There are many international students in Canada; however, you’re bound to make at least one friend who is canuck. Don’t be alarmed; it’s not a bad word! That’s what Canadians call themselves. While the origins of the word "Canuck" are debated, it has become a term of endearment for Canadians. It’s also used in the world of Canadian sports as part of team names, such as the Vancouver Canucks.
This is not an alien code! This is yet another one of the things Canadians say! If a fellow student throws this word at you in Canada, they’re just offering you a beverage! That’s right, what’s normally known as ‘soda’ is called a ‘pop’ in Canada, which will come in handy when you’re ordering takeout!
What’s a freezie, you ask? It’s what Canadians call a popsicle or ice pop.
Loonie and Toonie
When it comes to currency, Canadians have their own unique nicknames. The "loonie" refers to the $1 coin, which features an image of a loon, a bird commonly found in Canadian lakes. The "toonie" is the $2 coin, coined (pun intended) from combining "two" and "loonie."
Living in student accommodation in Canada might mean there are extra bills to pay, or maybe not! In Canada, the word "hydro" is commonly used to refer to electricity. So, when someone mentions their hydro bill or hydro company, they are talking about their electricity bill or the power utility provider.
“A kitty-corner” is a way to describe directions. Yes! You read that right! While discovering your new Canadian city, if a Canucks tells you, ‘It’s a kitty-corner from here’, don’t be confused. This means it is right across the street from you.
This versatile word is added at the end of a sentence to seek agreement, confirm understanding, or simply engage in friendly banter. You'll often hear Canadians say things like, "Nice weather we're having, eh?" or "That hockey game was intense, eh?" Get used to hearing this while you’re conversing with any Canucks, and who knows, you might find yourself using it as well, eh?
Hang A Larry/ Hang A Roger!
No, Larry and Roger aren’t famous Canadian celebrities! These are just some of the things Canadians say to give directions! They are usually used while driving; ‘hang a larry’ means to turn left, and ‘hang a roger" means to turn right!
If you're a coffee lover, you'll quickly become acquainted with the term "double-double." You’ll definitely hear this from fellow students either early in the morning or during a study session! A double-double simply refers to a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars!
Speaking of coffee, you should know that the most famous coffee shop in Canada is Tim Horton’s. However, our fellow Canadians refer to it as Timmie’s, something you should also do to blend in with your colleagues; no one says the actual full name!
Only a true Canadian knows the meaning of KD, and because we want you to fit right in with your classmates, we’ll let you in on the secret. KD is the abbreviation for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, a good old-fashioned packaged macaroni and cheese that is considered the go-to dish in Canada. A groundbreaking secret, isn’t it?
It’s almost always cold in Canada, so terms for winter-specific objects are important to know. In Canada, a toque (pronounced "took") is not just any winter hat; it's an essential accessory to battle the chilly Canadian winters. A toque is a knitted cap that covers your head and ears, keeping you warm and stylish in colder climates.
Yes, that’s what Canadians call any multi-level parking structure, a parkade.
If you find yourself in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, you may hear locals referring to a hooded sweatshirt as a "bunnyhug." This charming term is unique to the region and adds a touch of whimsy to everyday clothing.
One of the funny-sounding Canadian slang words is “skookum,” which means exceptional or impressive.
Another slang term you may hear while taking directions from a Canadian is the word "klick," which means kilometres and is used like “The university is 10 klicks away.”
This one might not be as obvious until you hear someone actually use it in a sentence. "Knapsack" is what Canadians use to refer to a backpack. It definitely rhymes with backpack, though, right?
While they are usually called a restroom or toilet in most countries and ‘the loo’ in Britain, bathrooms are referred to as washrooms in Canada.
We know that this word isn’t specifically a slang word, but in Canada, it’s the slang for ‘ok.’ So don’t be surprised when you give a statement and hear it in response. It isn’t to express that something is valid; it is just a confirmation. Here’s how you might hear it:
“I might be late for class today.” “True. I will give you my notes afterwards.”
In Canada, "Chesterfield" is not just a last name; it's also another word for a sofa or couch. So, if a Canadian invites you to have a seat on the chesterfield, they're simply asking you to sit on the couch. However, it’s mostly used by older people.
A gong show is used to describe any event that has gotten out of control, which hopefully you don’t get to witness!
No, we're not talking about the famous cartoon mouse. In Canada, a "mickey" refers to a 375-mL bottle of alcohol.
If you're invited to a Canadian gathering, you might be asked to bring a "two-four." This refers to a case of 24 beers, a popular choice for parties and social gatherings. It's a quintessential part of Canadian culture, especially during summer barbecues and cottage weekends.
If you're in Canada and someone asks you to put on your "runners," they're simply referring to athletic shoes or sneakers. It's a colloquial term used to describe footwear suitable for running or other physical activities.
When it comes to pizza or potato chips, Canadians have a unique flavour preference. "All-dressed" refers to a combination of various toppings or seasonings, creating a blend of flavours that includes a bit of everything.
If you want to encourage someone to go all out or give their maximum effort, you might hear a Canadian saying, "Give'r!" This expression encapsulates the Canadian spirit of determination and enthusiasm.
When someone refers to a place as the "loonie bin," they are not talking about a psychiatric institution. Instead, it's a playful term used to describe a store where you can find a wide variety of inexpensive items or second-hand goods.
On hot summer days, which are rare, Canadians turn to Slurpees for icy refreshment. A Slurpee is a frozen beverage available in various flavours that you can find at convenience stores across the country. It's the perfect way to cool down in sweltering temperatures.
In Canada, Smarties are not the colourful, chalky candies you may be familiar with. Canadian Smarties are chocolate-covered candies similar to M&M's. They come in a variety of vibrant colours and are a popular treat for both children and adults.
Well, we figure you’ve learned so much about things Canadians say and Canadian slang words you need to know to get by while studying in Canada. Now that you're equipped with this Canadian slang cheat sheet, you're ready to immerse yourself in the linguistic tapestry of the Great White North. Embrace the unique expressions and strike up conversations with friendly Canucks. Have fun exploring the fascinating and diverse Canadian culture, eh?
One thing is for sure about Canadians: they are the friendliest and most polite people in the world! You will find it super easy to meet new people and make lifelong friends there, no matter how strange their slang might be to you!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is something Canadians always say?
One common phrase that Canadians often use is "eh." It is added at the end of a sentence to seek agreement or confirm understanding.
2. What is Canadian slang for Canadians?
Canadians often refer to themselves as "Canucks." This term is used as a nickname for Canadians and is embraced as a term of endearment.
3. What's a famous Canadian saying?
A famous Canadian saying is "Sorry, eh." Canadians are known for their politeness and often use "sorry" as a courtesy, even in situations where an apology may not be necessary. The addition of "eh" at the end adds a touch of Canadian linguistic charm.