Canadian Slang That Confuses Americans

Caesar

Caesar

Be careful if you order a Caesar from an American bartender; you might wind up with a salad. A Bloody Mary is the closest equivalent for our friends south of the border, but it’s just not the same.

Canadian tuxedo

A blue denim jacket when worn with a pair of blue jeans? That’s a Canadian tuxedo and we’re proud of it! Even our American friends love it: remember Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the 2001 American Music Awards?

Freezies

Freeze pops? We call ’em freezies! Which one is your favourite? Blue, red, orange, purple…

KD

Canadians love Kraft Dinner — so much so that we’ve shortened the only-in-Canada mac-and-cheese to two letters that will mystify Americans who don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

Parkade

Only in Canada is a parking garage called a parkade. Now to remember where we parked…

Hydro bill

Americans pay their utility bills or electric bills, Canadians pay hydro bills. And that hydro bill can be expensive, because Canadian cities have some of the worst winters.

Toboggan

Americans like to go sledding in the winter, but Canadians will always prefer tobogganing.

Timbit

The Tim Hortons’ Timbit has become utterly ingrained in Canadian culture. In the U.S.? Not so much. For our American friends: it’s a doughnut hole!

Tap

Americans turn on the faucet, but a Canadian gets water out of the tap.

Serviette

Why use a napkin when you can use something as fancy-sounding as a serviette?

Pencil Crayons

Pencil crayons

Pencil crayons are a distinctly Canadian term for coloured pencils.

Dart

Canadian slang for a cigarette, as in, “I’m heading out behind the dumpster to go have a dart.”

Dinged

In the U.S., cars get dinged. In Canada, it’s our wallets, as in, “I got dinged 90 bucks for that speeding ticket.”

Elastics

Rubber bands? In Canada we call them elastics.

Gong show

To Americans, “Gong Show” is an intentionally awful talent show hosted by a heavily disguised (and proudly Canadian!) Mike Myers. For us, the term “gong show” (sometimes shortened to “gonger”) is slang for anything that goes off the rails, a wild, crazy or just plain chaotic event.

Hang a Larry or Roger

Where an American in a car’s passenger seat would tell the driver to take a left, a Canadian would say to hang a Larry (or a Roger for a right turn).

Homo milk

Every Canadian knows that this is short for homogenized milk.  Evangelical American Christians need not worry.

Housecoat

The item of clothing Americans refer to as a bathrobe or (if they’re classy) a dressing gown is known to Canadians by its true name: the housecoat.

Chinook

An American might recognize the word as referring to a species of salmon or a type of Canadian military helicopter, but only a true Canadian knows a Chinook is an unseasonably warm wind that rises over the Rockies and heats up as it descends.

Champagne birthday

Americans are often surprised to learn that a champagne birthday refers to the date when you celebrate the birthday that equates to the date of your birth, such as celebrating your 28th birthday on the 28th of May.

Toque

A knit hat. Worn by everyone in winter and by hipsters over the summer.

Stag

A bachelor party. The female equivalent: stagette.

Keener

A brown-noser.

The letter Z

Americans pronounce it zee. Canadians pronounce it zed, much to the detriment of the “Alphabet Song.”

Knapsack

A backpack.

Washroom

Americans call it the ‘men’s room’ or ‘ladies’ room.’

Eavestroughs

Rain gutters. Our term sounds way cooler, eh?

Garburator

A garbage disposal unit found beneath a kitchen sink.

Runners

Any kind of athletic footwear.

Mickey

A 13-ounce (give or take) bottle of hard alcohol.

Gitch or gotch

A very classy term for men’s underwear.

Chocolate bar

Americans call it a candy bar, which seems weird. To us, gummy worms are candy, ya know?

Processed cheese

American Cheese. Make your own joke here.

Humidex

Measurement used to gauge the combined effect of heat and humidity.

Two-four

A case of 24 beers. Cans or bottles: your choice!

Klick

Slang term for ‘kilometer.’

Chesterfield

A couch or sofa.

Kerfuffle

A scuffle or commotion, typically resulting from conflicting views.

Deke

To physically outmaneuver an opponent. Typically in hockey.

Pogie

Derived from slang from our Scottish friends, “pogie” means being on welfare or social assistance.

Molson muscle

A beer belly.

Head’r

To leave. Head out. Duck out. Get out of there. “The meatloaf was superb, mom, but we’ve gotta head’r.”

Snowbird

Typically, this means a retired Canadian who travels south for the winter. Usually to tacky parts of Florida or Arizona.

Rotten Ronnie’s / McDicks

Terms of ‘endearment’ for McDonald’s.

Booze can

An after-hours bar. They’re typically illegal, so shhhhh. Don’t tell your American friends.

Thongs

No, we’re not talking g-strings. Thongs are the casual style of footwear that you wear to the beach, the pool or the gym’s communal showers. Might still be known as flip-flops.

Give’r!

To really, truly go for it. All out. Pedal to the metal.

Loonie and toonie

The perfectly reasonable-sounding names of our one and two-dollar coins.

Soaker or booter

When you step in a puddle or snow bank and the water penetrates your poor unsuspecting shoes.

Double-double

A coffee with two milk and two sugar. Often ordered at Tim Horton’s.

If any of these confuse any Americans, don’t feel badly. Some of them are age-specific, or regional, and confuse the rest of us Canucks, too.

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