We have some very unique Canadian Sayings and Phrases. Most people think Canadians speak a lot like our American neighbours, but the truth is, we’re a little weird up here in the Great White North.
People must be pretty confused when we tell them: “A Coffee Crisp costs about a Loonie, pretty good deal eh?” Or, “I’d like a dozen Timbits with a large double double please.” What on earth does that mean? Let me explain.
Great Canadian Sayings
Canadian Slang – How To Speak Canadian
To listen to how we Canadian’s talk, watch our video of these two crazy Canucks explaining all the Canadian phrases we use. Here are a few of the staple Canadian slang words used daily.
This is our most popular Canadian saying that we receive the most flack about from the rest of the world. “Eh.” Everyone always makes fun of us. They mock us by using “eh” in the most ridiculous phrases and they never get it right. So I am going to give you a quick lesson on how to use the word “eh”. It is so simple to use and anyone can do it.
All you have to do is make a statement like “It is a very nice day out today.” If you add “eh” to the end of that statement, you can turn it into a question that will require a friendly reply from the person you are talking to.
For example…”It is very nice day out today eh?” To which the other person will reply “Yes it is.” See how easy it is? Now before visiting Canada, you can practice your use of the word “eh” and fit right in once you get here.
By far the silliest word for currency on the planet is the name of the Canadian dollar coin. “The loonie.”
When our one-dollar coin came out in the early nineties. Nobody really knew what to call it. We couldn’t exactly call it a dollar bill anymore, and a dollar coin just didn’t roll off of the tongue. So obviously a Loonie would be the next choice right?
Ok, I am kidding, it doesn’t make sense at all. That is until you see the coin. It has a picture of a Loon on it. So naturally, we all decided to call it a Loonie. And of course, when the two-dollar coin came out with a picture of a Polar Bear on it we called it a Bearie or a Polie right?
No way…we ended up calling it a Toonie, because Toonie rhymes with Loonie, and we Canadians like things that rhyme. It sounds loonie-toonie but it’s true!
- Coming to Canada? Get your travel guide by Lonely Planet
I went my entire childhood and a large portion of my adult life not realizing that this was a word only used in Canada. “Tuque” (it can also be spelled toque) I watched Canadian icons Bob and Doug Mackenzie as a kid wearing their tuques telling each other to “Take Off Eh” and I never thought anything of it. Take off and tuques were perfectly normal.
And then I started traveling. That’s when I realized that Canadians are strange. When I made statements like “Its cold tonight, I should have packed my tuque,” People looked at me like I was from another planet. What’s a tuque? They asked. Well, it is simple, a tuque is a knitted hat is used to keep the head warm.
The Edge from U2 often wears a tuque, and Jacques Cousteau always wore a tuque. Now you know. Buy your own Canadian tuque on Amazon.
- Get a copy of Bob and Doug Mackenzie’s Take Off Featuring Great Canadian Rocker Geddy Lee of Rush.
When I first started to travel the world. I was surprised to see the word Toilet used so much. In Canada, we call it a washroom. To us, the toilet sounds a bit vulgar.
I don’t think that I have ever heard the term washroom anywhere else except for Canada. In the U.S. They use bathrooms, and restrooms, I have seen water closet used around the world and The British love to say The Loo… But I never see washroom. I like washroom. I think I will keep using washroom.
5. Double Double
Ok, I could do an entire post on how Tim Hortons has shaped our coffee drinking as a nation. Tim Hortons is mediocre coffee that we are all mysteriously addicted to. We even opened a Tim Hortons in Afghanistan for our troops overseas. Nobody can do without their Timmies.
Here’s a phrase you must learn when coming to Canada. “I am going to Timmies to grab a box of timbits and a large Double Double.” That is what you say when leave the house to order an assortment of tasty doughnut centres and an oversized cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars at Tim Horton Doughnuts. Mmm Yummy.
By the way, Tim Hortons was founded by hockey legend Tim Horton. We love our hockey almost as much as we love our Timmies.
One of my favourite phrases that is uniquely Canadian is Two-Four. This is our phrase we use when we go to buy beer at the beer store. “I am going to get a 2-4 of Canadian at the Beer Store, do you want anything?”
Yes, we buy our beer at the Beer Store in Canada and a box of 24 beers is simply shortened to the words “two four.”
Speaking of booze, we also have something that is called a “Mickey” in Canada. A Mickey is a small bottle of alcohol that can fit in your pocket. In high school, people carried around a Micky of vodka or Canadian Club Rye Whiskey. (CC and Coke) to drink at parties.
7. Molson Muscle
Here’s another great Canadian phrase for you, the Molson Muscle. It’s what Canadians call a beer belly.
Here’s a word I just learned was distinctly Canadian. I didn’t realize that we are the only people in the world that call their electricity Hydro. When we pay our utilities each month, we pay our hydro bill. We don’t call it our electric bill. It’s Hydro.
In Ontario, we are run by Ontario Hydro. Dave’s dad worked for Hamilton Hydro. It’s as ingrained in our vocabulary as much as “eh” and “looney.” Oh, and PS, Canadians pay a lot for hydro even though we live next door to Niagara Falls.
This is what we Canadians call our Backpack or Rucksack. To Canadians a backpack is often called a knapsack. especially for school aged kids. . All through my school years I would pack my knapsack with my schoolbooks. When I first started traveling 10 years ago, I said to myself, “Well, I better buy a new knapsack to carry everything.”
I now use the term Backpack more often but I haven’t been able to say the term Rucksack, it is just odd to me. I really miss my knapsack days.
10. May 2 – 4 Weekend
Our favourite holiday is Queen Victoria’s Birthday on May 24th. Not because it is the Queens birthday. It is because it is a holiday to celebrate our great Canadian Beer. We all call it May 2-4 Weekend, because that is exactly what we do on long weekends.
We grab a 2-4 of beer and go to the cottage up north to work on our “Molson Muscle.” A Molson Muscle is our endearing term for the beer bellies we have developed over years of drinking Molson Canadian Beer. Yee Haw
11. Chocolate Bar
Canadians call our Candy Bars Chocolate Bars and I like it like that. That is what they are made out of. Chocolate, therefore they should be called chocolate bars. I rest my case.
A very typical Canadian chocolate bar is a coffee crisp. We have a commercial where the announcer asks, “How do you like your coffee?” Naturally, we like our “coffee” “crisp”.
Here’s a fast fact. Canada has its own version of M&M. We call them Smarties and we like to eat the red ones last.
I had heard this word as a child. Being born in Alberta, Canada my parents often talked about Chinooks blowing in from the mountains and how nice it was. I had no idea what this meant until I was older.
A Chinook is quite amazing actually. I learned today on the CBC that it is an Inuit word for “The snow that melts.” What a Chinook is, is a warm wind that comes over the mountain in the dead of winter and instantly melts the snow and raises the temperature.
It is needed because Alberta can be extremely cold in the winter. We’ve experienced winter in Alberta and trust me, it’s cold. My mom and dad love to tell the story of a pair of boots that my grandmother sent to them to keep warm in the winter. Well, my dad wore them out on one cattle drive (my dad was a rancher) and it was so cold that his boots cracked right open and shattered. They didn’t have Gortex then. And that is why everyone wore leather in Alberta.
14. Out and About Not Oot and Aboot
No, we don’t say aboot. If I hear one more person say “Oh your Canadian, do you go oot and aboot?” I’m going to sock it to em in the nose. Canadian’s don’t say about. However we do say About different from Americans. Americans say About like it is A-Baow-T with a more open ah sound. We say it more like A-boat. And I like the way we say about.Canadians should start embracing the way we say about. It’s lovely.
Why people think we say aboot is beyond me. But if you really want to delve into the reasoning for the difference. Check out Grammar Girl. She explains the diphthong differences eloquently here.
The American pronunciation is more like a-bow-t. (as in take a bow)
I know our American friends rhyme the alphabet and sing x, y, zee, but we say Zed. It doesn’t have the same zing when singing the alphabet song, but we do stick with zed. I used to drive a Zed 28 car. American’s called it Zee 28 and that’s just weird. But we do call ZZ Top Zee Zee Top, that would just be wrong to change their name.
So there you have it.
Can you think of any other Canadian sayings that are unique to your region or the country? Tell us some words unique to your country, we want to hear them.
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