Canadian words, phrases or slang that most Americans wouldn’t understand

Toque, toboggan, toonie, two-four… and so many more!

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1. Two-four (24 beers)

2. Loonie (and, of course, toonie)

3. Toque

4. Klick (kilometre)

5. Toboggan

6. Peamealor back bacon

7. Washroom

8. Serviette

9. Chinook (the wind, not the helicopter)

10. Mickey (e.g. a mickey of vodka)

11. Knapsack

12. Kerfuffle

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Canadian words, phrases or slang that most Americans wouldn’t understand

  1. Saskatchewan or South West Saskatchewan local words

    Doctoring: To have several medical appointments “I am doctoring these days”

    Slice: a pan of squares or similar treat. “Bring a slice to the funeral”

    Manitoba Local word
    Social: A party, usually before a wedding which has a special liquor licence which allows the party organizers to sell alcohol and raise money, usually for the engaged couple.

    Alberta local words
    The patrol: the snow removal crew

    • Social in Ontario is called either a Buck & Doe or a Stag & Doe.

      • That was before the NDP teachers union/ cum schoolboard brainwashed all the little kids with a grotesque collection of 300 pound Marxist kindergarten teachers.

        Now they call them a Buck & Stag or maybe a Kevin & Buck.

    • Alberta we say “slice” as well. “I am making a plate of slices for Christmas”

      Double-double is Canadian as well

  2. As far as I can tell the only Canadian words on there are loonie, toonie and micky. The rest come from elsewhere….’toque’ is Arabic via France for example.

    Americans used ‘klicks’ in Viet Nam, usually called K’s here…..and so on.

    • Um, yeah.. Not sure where you’re from in Canada, but on the west coast, we say “toque”.

      • People say it in Ont too….but Canadians didn’t invent the word.

        • no one is saying Canadians invented these words, they are just words americans don’t use as much or in the same way

          • LOL Americans don’t speak English.

          • You would be fun at parties….

          • LOL….bonus points for noticing that

          • LOL – ?
            WTF language is that?

          • No, they speak Reality Television.

          • Hah! I like that one…must remember it!

          • Well write it down or something will you.
            You remember a lot of stuff, but you usually remember it WRONG.

          • While your at it see if any of these names ring a bell: Poe, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorn,Twain, Emily Dickinson, Walt Witman, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, for starters.

            Only a fool would ignore some of the greatest names in literature.

          • Oh yes we do !

          • No, even Churchill said you don’t.

          • WRONG AGAIN

            Man, you’re out to lunch. Even the great OED (Oxford English Dictionary) is available online in either “US English” or “British English.”

            Get yourself a life and quit spreading misinformation and horse manure.

            And Winston Churchill was one of the greatest men who ever lived and for a rabid, atheist, NDP fruitcake like you to come on here and put him down is preposterous ….. “even Churchill” be damned.

          • Ms. McRae please forgive me for interjecting myself into your harrassment by that fruitcake Emily.

            I took care him; he’s wrong as usual.

            Edit – I guess he’s never heard of a few of the great contributors to English literature: Poe, Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorn,Twain, Emily Dickinson, Walt Witman, Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, for starters.

      • But we spell it toke, non?

        • AHAHAHAHA

          • And while I’m at it, happy new year to you tooo, EmilyOne.

          • Thanks and the same to you!

        • Love it! Happy New Year, JanBC!

        • It’s a tuque, like in La Tuque, the town in QC. Hence the idiom, tiens bien ta tuque – or in English: hang on to your hat – things are about to get exciting. Chefs wear toques – a wide brimmed cover.

          Etre toqué – to be a bit crazy, eccentric.

          A toke, well it’s a different thing altogether, in English and in French, in certain milieux.

    • IME, the French do not use (or understand) the word “togue”.

      • The word for the hat is ‘toque’

        A ‘togue’ is a French word for a type of fish.

  3. “The Patrol” is also an old Saskatchewan word used to donate the Road Grader used by RMs.

    • Denote*.

    • Yes that is correct also used in South Western Manitoba in the 1950′s

  4. What about ‘Davenport’ or ‘Chesterfield’?

    • Canadians say ‘sofa’ or ‘couch’

      • Actually, not all Canadians say “sofa” or “couch”. It can change depending on the region in Canada.

        • Most of us….in this generation…say sofa or couch.

          • As if most of us… in this generation… use the word “kerfuffle” or “serviette” regularly

          • LOL goodness, I hope not!

          • well, I use both of those and I’m in my 20′s.

          • Doh! feeling old now.

          • In your case that would be as in “couch potato,”

            But you’re a slow learner. To the Americans the thing is a couch, you can get one at Walmart.

            What the Americans wouldn’t understand is if they saw a Canadian nut bar like you passed out one, scratching your unconscious self and waiting for Justine to show up.

      • Why don’t you learn to read and follow that up by speaking to the topic
        FYI – the Americans will recognize sofa, that’s what they call them too.

      • No Emily when I lived in Canada (born & raised & lived there for 31 years) I said chesterfield. Down here (we moved to the U.AS. years ago) The people down here thought I was talking about about cigarettes. I now call them sofa’s

        • My family has been here since 1848. I’m 66.

          I can’t help it if you were weird.

          • Were you born at home Emily?

  5. Give’r seems pretty Canadian to me.

  6. oh and “pop” they call soda oh and “out” they say” ou”

  7. Deke – in hockey to fake out an opposing player

  8. chesterfield

    • yes Chesterfield it is. The British know what we mean but think its so old fashioned. A sofa to me is just plain archaic!

      • A Chesterfield is a particular kind of a sofa / couch in the UK, not any sofa / couch.

  9. Transplanted U.S. > Canada here… The Canadians in my life use “transport” for U.S. “semi truck”. “All Dressed” for “The works”, “Cash” for Cashier” or “Check out”. “On for X” instead of “On sale for X”.

  10. Double Double

  11. Oh, almost forgot – not so much a word as a phrase (for my Nova Scotian friends)…. “some good”

    • I’m from NB and we always said that too; in fact, a chocolate company had a TV ad when I was a kid where they people bit into the chocolate, and said, “some good.” I live in SK now and nobody says that here.

    • Used a lot in NL as well

    • My maritimer brother-in-law often comments, “Some sh*tty”, as in when at the drag races the racer’s transmission falls out at take-off, “He must feel some sh*tty.”

  12. How about the phrase “pogey” for welfare payments? That dates back to the Great Depression.

  13. truly Northern – Klik – processed meat in a can (like Spam), Machine – snowmobile or skidoo. Also, stating distance in time – ie, place A is 3 hours from place B.

  14. Oh fer sure, eh?

    ‘Toque’ is French, now also Canadian-English. Also, I don’t know why Britishisms are on this list. I mean, why don’t we add ‘Throne Speech’, ‘Speaker’s Mace’, ‘prorogue’, ‘Military Tattoo’ and ‘Bonspiel’, while were at it? Plus the entire vocabulary of the metric system?

    ‘Kerfuffle’ is British. Montana knows what a Chinook is, so why is it on the list?
    ‘Mickey’ is as American as any word. ‘Toboggan’ may have originated in the Canadian North, but Americans use it, see Calvin and Hobbs.

    • Toque is not French, tuque is. Why Anglos insist on changing the vowle bbut not the pronunciation eludes me. In my dictionaries, toque refers more to a chef’s hat than the knitted hats some of us wear in winter.

      • argh, vowel and but.

      • Not quite, Arthur.
        “Une toque” is the generic French word in France and the rest of the French-speaking world. It now chiefly means a chef’s hat. It is never used to mean a ‘cold-weather hat’.
        “Une tuque” is the French-Canadian word, and it means, exclusively, a Canadian-style winter cap. It is possible that La toque of today was La tuque, in the provincial French of the 17th century.

  15. How about “hydro”?

    • That gets me, too, and I’m Canadian. It’s power you’re paying for, people. It’s a power bill. Or electricity, if you prefer.

      • Well I’m pretty sure that’s because we ‘re the 3rd largest producer and consumer of hydroelectricity (which means power created from water and turbines) in the world @ over 50% But I’m sure as a Canadian you already knew that……..

        • Snippy Phil: The trouble is that the word hydro means only water. By shortening hydroelectricity bill to ‘hydro bill’, we’ve turned our power bills into water bills.

        • Hydro is simply a company name in certain regions. You are paying an electric bill. Hearing someone say they are paying the “Hydro” bill sounds similar to me to when you are in the States and hear people order “sodas” when they want pop. It sounds foreign to me, as someone who lives outside of a “Hydro” region.

          I suspect it’s a marketing term, too, so people don’t ask about those other power sources.

        • I married a Canadian. When she moved with me to South Carolina, she would inquire about our “hydro bill”. The locals had no clue. Frankly, neither did she until I explained it to her. She also liked to argue with the South Carolinians over who which one of them was “the Yankee”. To her, anyone south of the border was a Yankee.

  16. American who lived in Calgary here…

    - Parkade
    - Donair
    - “In Hospital” (americans say “in the hospital”)

    • Living in Ontario, I’ve never heard any of those three… we say “in the hospital”.

      • “In Hospital” is UK usage too,

      • as a Dual Citizen I have to go with Alan
        All media in Canada(east to west) say “in hospital” or “taken to hospital”
        Grade Five(5th Grade)
        Write the test(wow I should ace that since I made up the questions and then TAKE the test)
        Gas Bar(yuck)

  17. What, nobody’s mentioned poutine?

    • That is not Canadian, you would have the Quebec “nation” howling in indignity if it where to be labelled as such in the very magazine that so right fully labelled them as the most corrupt province in Canada!:)

  18. Soaker

  19. beaver

  20. They don’t know what a parkade is either. That used to majorly confuse one of my friends. Its a “parking structure” lol.

  21. Sniffing snisket

  22. Americans pronounce the letter “Z” differently.
    Prounounced “Zee” in the US, “Zed” in Canada.

    • Zed in the UK

      • WRONG AGAIN
        Both – OED

    • I grew up saying “zed” it was one of the first letter I switched to saying “zee” when we moved here. I like the sound of it better.

  23. What about Rye, as in ‘rye and coke’ try ordering one of those south of the border.
    Not sure if thongs, (meaning flip flops) has ever been uttered in America.

  24. When living in BC no one knew what a “two-four” was, it’s called a “flat” out there, and a “pint” was always referred to as a “sleeve”

  25. I’m a Maritimer on the prairie, and whenever it gets humid and I say it’s “close,” nobody knows what I mean.

  26. Arse…course thats more of a maritime only word lol

    • Not so heard in B.C. all the time.

  27. US: “Man-made fabrics”
    Canada: “Synthetic fabrics”

  28. How about ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’?

    • That depends on what state you’re in in the U.S., in some states they call it pop, while in others they call it soda. Its not just a Canadian saying!

  29. Skookum? From the Chinook, but no one else speaks it anymore.

    • I grew up in B.C. Skookum was used a lot it meant strong , substantial etc.

  30. Wouldn’t pretty much anyone get “Klick”? It’s common military parlance for kilometre, and the U.S. military uses the metric system for the most part. Hard to watch a war movie without hearing it.

    More to the point, do Canadians generally use “klick” in day to day conversation?

  31. “The Legion”, as in “Me and the boys, we’re goin’ to The Legion, have a few brew, eh?”

  32. I always thought that a Two-Four was an Ontarioism not a Canadianism. Until recently, here in BC, beer was always sold as either ‘a six-pack’ or ‘a case’ (of 12).
    I also know that Back Bacon is supposed to be somehow Canadian but I have never seen it on a breakfast menu and most grocery stores don’t carry it.

  33. Do we say ‘funnies’ or ‘comics’? And another thing: Isn’t a ‘toque’ something you young people smoke?

    Mo

  34. When we first moved to the U.S. I asked someone at work “How many stats do you get per year ?” They had no idea I meant statutory holidays.Instead they just say “holiday (s) ” & “vacation” or the lengthy time off that we called “holidays ” as in summer holidays.

  35. “Dinged” As in ‘getting dinged on my taxes this year.’ I said this to some Americans in conversation and I had to translate:)

  36. How about ‘eh’ ?

  37. Turf or turf it – throw away.
    Elastic – I got funny looks for this one. Ask for a rubber band
    Eraser – isn’t an eraser in some parts of the States.

  38. WHAT IS A CANADIAN PHRASE FOR WINNING?

  39. Didn’t know knapsack was a word that only we would know

  40. Anglo-Quebec: ordering a big mac “trio” at McDonalds will get you a BigMac, fries, and a drink. Anywhere else, it’ll get you three BigMacs (I hate asking for the “meal”).

  41. Granted, I’m from Michigan, so not too far off, but I understand (and use) a lot of these…toboggan, loonie and toonie (although I would’ve thought that it’s spelled “twonie”), toque, kapsack, and my personal favorite–kerfuffle. I’d say that I would’ve understood all of these except for Peameal and Mickey with no further explanation.

  42. klick is an American invention of US Marnes in Viet Nam where distances are measured in kilometres

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