Canada has two official languages, English and French, and a third unofficial one: Canadian slang.
With a multicultural society centered around the simple things in life—leisure, friendly competition, and politeness—it’s no coincidence these are reflected in the common tongue.
Here are 50 Canadian slang words, terms and sayings to sound like a local in the Great White North.
An expression used when referring to something, or someone, exceptionally good. For example: “Too bad you missed the show last night. It was a real beauty”.
British Columbia is the southwesternmost Canadian province, known for its warmer winters, laidback lifestyle, and high-quality marijuana. Hence, the California of Canada.
An informal term for an individual from Canada, instead of the more formal ‘Canadian’. Also, the nickname of the professional hockey team from Vancouver.
Not the sound a bird makes, but making fun of someone or trash-talking the opposition during a competition. “Those annoying fans wouldn’t stop chirping the whole game.”
A quicker way to say ‘kilometers’ (or ‘kilometres’) when referring to distance and directions. “Suzie lives about 10 clicks away.”
Nickname for Calgary, a city in the western Canadian province of Alberta, known for its Old Western heritage and world-famous Calgary Stampede—an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival.
Cigarettes. As in smoking darts.
Short for decoy, a hockey term that refers to an athletic move where the player controlling the puck fakes out or deceives their opponent.
Short for dépanneur, the term for a convenience store in the French-speaking province Quebec. Translated literally as “troubleshooter”, the abbreviation has also joined the lexicon of anglophones in reference to corner stores across the country.
A common way for a Canadian to order their coffee—double cream, double sugar.
Pronounced ‘ay’ and used in 99.99% of sentences uttered by Canadians, it is the most versatile of the Canadian slang words. Most popularly posed as a question to mean ‘pardon?’ or ‘don’t you agree?’, it can also be used to affirm or emphasize just about anything it follows.
Fill yer boots
This hospitable saying comes from the island of Newfoundland off the east coast of the Canadian mainland, meaning ‘do whatever you want’ or ‘help yourself to as much as you’d like’.
A nostalgic summertime treat consisting of ice, sugar, and food-coloring that comes in a clear plastic tube.
Phrase of encouragement when trying to finish something, as in: “You’ve got a bit more beer left in your glass, git’r done.”
Another phrase of encouragement to give it all you got, particularly when it comes to sports and athletics. “Get out on the ice and give’r.”
A sports term, also known as a cherry picker, that refers to a player who neglects their defensive duties by staying near their opponents goal while waiting for easy opportunities to score.
A situation or event that is a disaster or gets way too out of control. “That party last night got really out of hand. It was a real gong show.”
Gotch (or Gitch or Gonch)
Underwear, specifically the tight men’s cotton briefs also known as tighty-whities.
Short for les habitants (the residents, in French) and nickname of the Montreal Canadians hockey team. The use of the term goes back to 1914 when a local paper reported a 9–3 victory over the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hang a Larry
Not literally. If you’re driving a car in Canada and the navigation system tells you to ‘hang a Larry’, it simply means to turn left.
Hang a Roger
Again, don’t physically harm a nearby Roger. Just turn right.
Probably the most surprising thing (happy) tourists notice in Canada when visiting the local grocery stores. It’s simply short for ‘homogenized milk’ or whole milk with 3.25% fat.
A term popularized in the early ‘80s on Great White North, a comedy sketch by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas on the television show SCTV. A hoser is slang for a dumb person, but in a sort of polite and endearing way unique to Canadians.
This one will make your mouth water. It’s a doughnut filled with jam.
To avoid the guilt and shame of blasphemy yet retain the satisfaction of cursing—usually after clumsily hurting themselves—Canadians cleverly replace the name of Christ with Murphy.
Short for Kraft Dinner; the non-perishable, cardboard box-packaged macaroni and cheese which many consider the de facto national dish of Canada.
A person who is extremely eager or keen to please others, not in a good way. Synonymous with a brown-noser or overachiever.
When two (or more) Canadians disagree or have a difference of opinion, a kerfuffle may ensue. It refers to everything from a small fuss or commotion to a full-blown hockey fight.
A Canadian food staple. Classic potato chips covered in a salty ketchup seasoning that leaves a red stain on everything it touches—fingers, tongues, clothing, and upholstery.
Loonie and Toonie
In 1987, when the Canadian dollar bill was replaced by a coin stamped with an image of a bird—the common loon—it wasn’t long before the nickname ‘loonie’ took hold. This set the stage less than a decade later, when it came time to name the newly released two dollar coin—the ‘toonie’.
Not the name of the iconic Disney mouse, but a flask-sized bottle of liquor (usually Canadian whiskey) that easily fits into a person’s hand, purse, or pocket.
Molson is a common brand of Canadian beer, and the muscle being referred to is the belly. It’s simple math: Beer + Belly = Molson + Muscle.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the federal and national police service of Canada. Colloquially known as the ‘Mounties’, they are famous for their distinctive dress uniform accentuated by a scarlet tunic and wide, flat-brimmed campaign hat.
Out for a rip
This phrase has two meanings. One is going out for a drive, usually something a bit extreme like offroading or snowmobiling. The other refers to hanging out with friends—kicking back, taking it easy, and having a good time.
A multi-story parking lot, also known as a parking garage.
The common name for soda, a soft drink, or any flavored carbonated beverage.
A savory dish that originated in the French Canadian province of Quebec, made of french fries and cheese curds covered in gravy.
What groupies are to rock bands, puck bunnies are to hockey teams. They aren’t necessarily interested in the game, but have their eyes (and hearts) set on the players.
A person who spends most of their time at the skating rink. It can be a hockey parent who is always watching their kid practice and play, or a youth who has no social life outside of the rink—playing hockey or not.
Running shoes or any other casual athletic shoes like sneakers or tennis shoes
Cowboy boots or a heavy pair of shoes you don’t mind getting covered in dirt and mud.
It’s no secret that winters in Canada can be some of the longest and coldest on the planet. And like the birds who migrate seasonally to warmer climates, some Canadians escape the snow by flocking south in search of sand and sun. Hence the nickname ‘snowbirds’.
A 3-liter (or litre) bottle of liquor. This supersized 101 ounces of alcohol lends credence to the unofficial state slogan that “everything is bigger in Texas”.
Made famous by hip-hop artist Drake, ‘The Six’ refers to his hometown of Toronto. Contrary to common assumptions, the nickname comes from the 6 boroughs of the city, not the 416 and 647 area codes.
Nickname for the city of Winnipeg, the capital of the province of Manitoba. The“Gateway to the West” is known for its extremely cold winters and mosquito-infested summers.
Donut holes. So named because of the famous Canadian coffeehouse Tim Hortons, lovingly known as...
Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest—and favorite—fast food restaurant chain specializing in coffee and doughnuts. It doesn’t get much more Canadian than ordering a double-double and timbits at Timmies.
Pronounced ‘too-uk’, it’s a warm, brimless, knit hat—often with a tassel or pom-pom on top—which people outside of Canada usually call a ski hat or a beanie.
A case of twenty four beers. A common courtesy to bring over to a friend’s house and a great way to stay warm in the winter.
The Canadian term for a bathroom or restroom, and the variation that makes the most sense—not all have baths, public ones are usually not great places to rest, and a friendly reminder to wash up before you leave!
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Kevin Pollock, Writer and Manager of Content at Wix
Born in Canada, raised in America, educated in England, and living in Israel. That means it’s Zed not Zee, miles not kilometers, crisps not chips, and hummus on everything.