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.

WOW #41

Bistro

I don’t like English words that aren’t really, wholly, completely accepted and widely used English words.  I know that the English Language appropriates words from other tongues, wholesale, but I don’t like words like tsuris, which is a seldom-used Yiddish/Hebrew word, meaning troubles, or woe.

I’m not pretentious enough to use the Word Of this Week, which is

BISTRO

but if I did, I’d have regarded it as an artsy-fartsy, café-au-lait sipping, croissant-munching, Left-Bank Parisian Frog French word which does not fall trippingly from the mouths of most Americans or Canadians…. until I did a little recent research.

It seems that bistro’s ancestor was a common-man, dock-walloper word that would have been familiar to any MAGA who supports Trump.  The Seine River that Paris sits on is large enough for small ships to navigate upstream, to unload their cargoes.

Once upon a history, France and Russia used to do a lot of trading.  Roustabout Russian sailors used to be common on Paris docks.  When they paused for a quick noon-time meal, they would go to the many nearby restaurants/cafes to eat.  Time and tide wait for no man, especially the tide.  They needed to eat quickly, and get back to finish the job.

The food establishments, used to the French, laggard, laissez-faire lifestyle, were in no hurry to prepare or serve food to them, so it became common for them to shout at the kitchen/waiter, “Bistro, Bistro”, a Russian word that means hurry, rush, get a move on!

I still prefer a Burger King to a Bistro – unless you’re treating, in which case, please contact me at once.  We could have a lovely discussion about international trade, and Russian sailors’ tattoos.  😉  😆

Real Canadian Whine – Eh?

Canadian Flag

Some time after the recent election of the drama-queen-student-instructor, Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister of Canada – The Next Generation, I received the following letter.

 

Dear Friend:

We have the honor of being on a Committee to raise five million ($5,000,000) for a statue of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to be placed in the Canadian Hall of Fame in Ottawa, Ontario.

The Committee has been in a quandary as to where to place the statue. It was felt unwise to place it beside the statue of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who never told a lie, nor too close to that of Sir John A. MacDonald, who never told the truth.  Trudeau can never tell the difference.

We have finally decided to place it beside the statue of Christopher Columbus, the greatest leader of them all. He left not knowing where he was going, and, upon arriving, did not know where he was. When he returned home, he had no idea where he had been.  And he did it all on borrowed money.

It is reported that Prime Minister Trudeau is considering a change in the Liberal Party’s emblem, from a Maple Leaf, to a Condom. The Condom stands for inflation, halts productivity, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives a false sense of security while one is being screwed.

If you are one of those fortunate few who has any money left after paying your grocery and gasoline bills, we will expect a generous donation as your contribution to this worthwhile project.

 

Yours very truly,

 

Chairman, STATUE COMMITTEE

Condom

To All My American Readers;

Don’t despair. I’ll get around to insulting your leader soon enough.  😛

SWEEEET!

American money

To help finance our recent trip to visit Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo, I did a little unintentional crowd-sourcing. Son Shimoniac and I are almost impossible to buy presents for. I don’t even wear ties, so gaily-wrapped tee-shirts, socks or underwear often show up.

Grandson WillowThorn had been desperately searching for suitable presents for both Shimoniac and I. Our birthdays both occurred just before this trip. He had finally found something suitable for me, which he will now delightedly hold until Christmas. When he heard about our trip, he went to a bank and presented each of us with $50 US cash. That’s the joy of a gift of money. It’s always the right size. Let’s have a nice round of applause for one of the nicest grandsons/nephews in the world.

The son worked a midnight shift till 7 AM, Saturday morning, came home, showered, changed, had breakfast/midnight snack, and helped me load the car after I’d had *?*? hours of sleep. He normally goes to bed about noon, but sometimes gets excited by the weekend before him and stays up till 3 or 4. With the trip ahead, he was so high on adrenalin, I could have towed him to Buffalo like a kite.

I had decided to cross the border from Queenston to Lewiston, partly to save a bit of extra driving, but mostly to keep Ethel, the snotty GPS, quiet. Fifty miles of the drive were along a highway named for the Queen, The Queen Elizabeth Way – The QEW, which Ethel rendered to ‘The Q EWest’. I’m lucky she didn’t call it ‘The QEast/West’. Before we left, the son entered the address of the motel out in Batavia that we would stay at. Ethel didn’t get snotty till I decided to pull off I-90, to get to the restaurant. We forgot to tell her we were stopping for lunch.

Cordelia had already wisely backed out, but CM has two other quite intelligent daughters, both also smart enough not to want to have anything to do with mom’s two rotund Canuckleheads.

CM had to go down to the basement, where she managed to slip off the electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, unchain Mr. CM, and drag him along. He must have majored in Performing Arts in College, because he acted as if he actually enjoyed himself.

SDC10886 our restaurant, The Grapevine

Having already pulled an illegal player substitution on us, CM then proceeded to execute an end run. Two days before kickoff, she emailed me to say that she had invited another blogger and his wife http://markbialczak.com/ . Talk about feeling like a fifth wheel – more like the third rail.

SDC10603

Sadly, they couldn’t make it. I seated The Bear across from Mr. CM. When he left, he still had both ears, so I guess the son didn’t talk one of them off. I posted a blog called Funny Money, about Canada’s new, polymer plastic bills, but it was before CM knew me, so she hadn’t seen it.

Loonie toonie

They both were aware of them, as well as our Loonie and Toonie – the $1 and $2 coins, but hadn’t actually seen them, so I hauled some out for their inspection. They were fascinated, especially hubby, with the holograms.

SDC10657      SDC10885

Lunch was delicious, (and paid for by someone else) and the company was sparkling. I remembered to present CM with a refill on her maple candy, (this is where the SWEEEET comes in) and LadyRyl sent along a cloth chew-toy for the dog.  I don’t know if Not CM sneaked in or not.  I kept glancing around for strange looking people, and found everyone staring at Shim and I.  We were It.  😛

SDC10888

Kooky, the Coke-sniffing drinking bear got to make some new friends. Afterwards, we were invited back to our hosts’ home to meet puppy Cody, and view the almost-completed repairs.

SDC10891  come back here SDC10892

Possibly overwhelmed by the size and the hair on The Bear, Cody was understandably reticent. It took some skill and patience to get a shot of her. CM then led us on a merry chase down to The Galleria Mall. After another minor episode of not quite being where we should, (wait till you read what I managed on my own later) she abandoned left us in the rain, outside a Sears store.

SDC10694

I’m not much of a believer in superstitions, but the finding of lucky, welcoming pennies just continued – three days, three pennies found, the first by Shimoniac, on a hip-high shelf in Sears. Please return next week for the story of our stay in a small town city, out in the sticks.

Flash Fiction #28

Hydrangeas with Ice

 

‘Gripe, gripe, grumble, bitch’

“Just look at that.  Not only are all the flowers dead and dried up, but now they’re all coated with ice.”

“There’s no use complaining dear.  It’s Nature’s plan.  Summer turns to winter, and all the plants die off and turn brown.  Next spring they’ll all be lush and green again.  It’s called the Cycle of Life.”

“That’s easy for you to say honey.  You’re from the Upper Michigan Peninsula – but you married a Southern Gentleman.  This is Atlanta!  Damn those Canadians and their polar vortexes and their Arctic jet streams!”

‘Grumble, gripe, bitch, bitch’

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Skinny Dipping

Good Lord!  There was a bigger stampede that time than when I said to have a drink with me.  You people should be ashamed of yourselves….or party-proud.  Sadly, for you, I’ve led you astray again.  What I’m doing is dipping into recent newspaper stories, to give you the skinny, about a few of the things the local newspaper has seen fit to print recently.  Interesting?  Maybe.  Amusing?  Perhaps.  Entertaining?  I hope so!

First of all, does anyone know how the term “The Skinny” came into being?  If you don’t, don’t feel badly.  Not even Wikipedia can come up with a solid answer.  I don’t like the term.  Personally, I feel it’s too affectatious.  It’s used, fortunately sparingly, everywhere English is spoken, but it seems to be mostly a New York City piece of slang.  Montreal can hate Toronto, but I think we can all hate NYC!  It seems to be a newspaper term that started when some editor wanted to “get down to the skin” of a story.

A local woman has given birth to triplets.  That in itself is a one in ten thousand occurrence.  These three are all identical, which makes it literally, a one in a million.  Her doctor asked her which fertility specialist they’d gone to.  That confused the couple, since these three were naturally conceived.  They have a four-year-old son at home, and just brought home three more boys….and already she wants to try again, because she wants a girl.  She’ll end up with a baseball team, and no cheerleader.  Apparently she named the boys Blake, Lucas and Timothy, because the husband said that, with three chances, he still didn’t get to use his favorite name, Silas.

KayJai blogged about getting ready to withstand Hurricane Leslie, at her home in Newfoundland.  We’ve had a picture in the local paper, of a car, up to the top of its wheel-wells in water.  Seawater or fresh, that’s not going to do it a lot of good.  There was also a picture of a man in St. Johns, who had a three-foot thick tree split and fall on his house.  The ironic part was that Hurricane Leslie brought the tree down on this man’s house on Leslie Street.

Over in the next small city, a female preacher from the Church Of Holier Than Thou, felt that marriages at City Hall should be performed by more than just a clerk.  She went to the council and offered her services as City Pastor, essentially creating her own second, paid, part-time job.  But her particular sect would not allow her to marry same-sex couples, so she fobbed those off onto another preacher she knew, who could and would.

Gay and lesbian couples complained about discrimination, and getting second-tier service.  A court has decided that whoever does the job, needs to perform the entire job, so her fill-in has been appointed.  She “feels let-down”, and, of course, one of her church members has already had an op/ed letter printed, claiming she was discriminated against.  I see no discrimination against her, only her church against gays.  She wasn’t forced to marry gay couples.  She wasn’t forced to remain on the job, against her morals.  The city council had to choose between a city official who would do half a job, and one who would do the complete function.  I know which one I’d choose.  How about you?

A Nova Scotia folksinger has released an album entitled No More Pennies, which is all about the disappearance of the Canadian penny, now that the Mint is no longer stamping them out.  As part of the cover art, he had several images of Canadian pennies.  The Canadian Mint sent him an official cease-and-desist letter, saying that all image rights to all Canadian money belong to the mint.  If he were to sell more than 2,000 album copies, he would be subject to a $1200 royalty fee.  Several days later, after the public outrage died down a bit, and the Ritalin kicked in, the bureaucrats offered him a one-time exemption.  Take ‘er an’ run, me boy!

My wife said recently that my letters to the editor have died back a bit since I’ve taken up blogging.  I had another letter printed recently.  After our local by-election a man had a letter printed, in which he complained about getting an automated phone call, touting one of the candidates, at five to midnight, long after he’d gone to bed.  What particularly irked him, was that he does not live within the riding boundary.

The election committee apologised and blamed the service provider for both the timing and location.  Another man actually took the time and effort to send in a letter pointing out that the victim is now a member of the “connected” generation.  If he didn’t want to be wakened at night, he should “just turn the phone off.”  I submitted a letter which suggested that Mr. Sympathy could provide his own phone number.  That way, if Victim’s mother died of a heart attack, or his wife was involved in a traffic accident, or his son was pulled over after a late party for DUI, and needed bail and a drive home, Sympathy could take a message, and run over to the house and deliver it.

Some people can afford to be disconnected; others can’t.  Some people need it.  For a while, years ago, the local transit company had 888 numbers assigned to every stop in town.  If you called the stop number, the automated system would give you the expected times of arrival for the next two buses.  My daughter’s then-current boyfriend got sick of his drunken buddies calling him up in the middle of the night.  He paid for phone service which included call-forwarding.  Before he went to bed, he would set the system to call one of the bus-stops, or the answering machine at one of the local funeral homes.

  1. H.E. ELLIS says:

September 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm (Edit)

Hello Archon and his league of illustrious Canadian-types. I’ve just gotten word that next week there will be a new blog that has to do with Canada. Here’s more info:

http://speaker7.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/canadica-is-coming/

Pass the word along to Kayjai and Harem.

By this method I have been a good boy and done that.  I also include SightsNBytes and all the other readers who would get a kick out of reading about Canadian/American comparisons and contrasts.  It can be reached directly at www.canadica.wordpress.com