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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’18 A To Z Challenge – Neighbors

 

Challenge '18letter-n

 

 

 

 

 

Neighborhood

I accidentally did another favor for my neighbors – and I don’t regret or begrudge it.

I wrote of being able to do several favors for them, several years ago.  Those favors have been returned like bread upon the waters, 7-fold.  The ‘rot-proof’, pressure-treated posts that support our common fence are over 30 years old, and they rotted.

As I sadly stood considering the tilting fence, morosely calculating what it was going to cost in money, energy, time, and lost skin, the neighbor asked me if I would mind if he repaired it.  His son runs a small landscaping firm, so he had access to a powered post-hole auger.  His first thought was that he could bore out the concrete bases….FAIL!

Digging them out by hand was difficult and time-consuming.  Suddenly, inspiration struck.  He cut 2 feet off a 10-foot panel, moved the necessary holes two feet, and spliced the orphan back in at the end.  All he asked, was $100 for lumber and supplies.  The wife tipped him an extra $20 for saving me the trouble.

Recently, his first-marriage daughter stayed with them for several days.  They are both non-smokers, so she sits on the front porch to puff.  One spring evening, in the dark of 9:30 PM, I left the living room to use the powder-room, next to the front door.  The pebbled glass in the lower pane made car lights on their driveway seem like they’re on our front lawn.  I stood tippy-toe to look out, but it wasn’t their car.  I turned on the light, and peered out again.  The car quickly backed out, and drove off.

I hadn’t got my ass back on the couch, when the phone rang.  They were at a friend’s, and the daughter had called.  While she was sitting, smoking, some guy had just pulled into the driveway and said, “Wanna come over here, Babe?”  She’s a sturdy lass of 25, and could probably handle any problem, but she stepped inside, locked the door, and called them.  Would I please take a look and see if there was any trouble?

I told her that my neighborly nosiness had already driven him off.  She was reassured on an immediate basis, but now she, his daughter and I, were all somewhat perplexed.  Was this just some random guy, approaching random women?  In the dark, neither of us got a good look at the driver, the car, or the licence plate.  In our quiet, safe suburban subdivision, do we have a hooker, or a drug dealer working?

The wobbly wife wants a new rail installed on the deck steps.  The old ones are leaning as badly as the fence was, and she needs safe support, when she follows the new puppies that you’ll read all about in a month, out onto the lawn.  Maybe I can leverage this into some design/installation help from the amateur carpenter husband.  😀

Flash Fiction #167

Taxes

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

TAXING FREEDOM

Start your own business, they said.  Become an independent sub-contractor.  Be your own boss and answer to no-one.

It was a great idea, but this was a downside that the cube drones only had to worry about once a year, by April 15thHe had to calculate and pay his business taxes quarterly.

If he had a heart attack while filling in all these arcane forms, would the cause of death be listed as ‘acute bureaucratitis?’  He wondered if he could list the government as a dependent.

Another shot and a smoke, and he’d be filed by the midnight deadline.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #135

Halo Statue

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

I GOT CONNECTIONS

Giancarlo had come to America, the land of promise and opportunity. After several years of hard work, he had saved enough to bring Mama over.

He installed her in a nice apartment, in a safe building which also housed several European widows of similar age. He made sure she had every comfort, and visited her each day.

After almost a month, he asked if there was anything she lacked. She said, “Yes, I wanna Halo Statue.”

They were good Catholics, but he’d never heard of a Halo Statue.

Impatiently, she mimed picking up a telephone, and said, “Halo, ‘stat you?”

***

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

 

Flash Fiction #126

 

lost-head

PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

Gone – And Forgotten

Johan was the most disorganized, forgetful person I’d ever met.  Instead of putting things where they belonged, and knowing where they were, he just dropped them….wherever, and spent his days saying things like;
“I wonder where I set my beer down.”
“Has anybody seen my smokes?”
“I have to leave soon.
  Somebody help me find my keys.”

After locating his glasses for him – 8 times, today – I suggested that he arrange his life a little more carefully.  He agreed that it was a good idea.  “Honestly, sometimes I think I’d forget my own head if it wasn’t screwed on tight.”

***

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

 

Flash Fiction #108

Wasp

PHOTO PROMPT © Janet Webb

FACETS

We missed Mavis and her family when they moved away. When Cindy and her hubby moved in, we were quick to invite her to be part of our little Koffee-klatch – too quick.

We were not elegant ladies, just a group of suburban mothers, worn smooth and well mannered, in our own company.

Not so Cindy! She drank hard, cursed like a trucker, smoked like it was mandatory and complained we wouldn’t let her, in our homes.  She slurred every race except her white one, and constantly spouted opinions which only proved her ignorance.

We hope her nasty sting soon leaves.

***

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

Am I Blue!

Guinness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah yes, the Blue Laws, often forgotten, but still not gone.  Ontario is not the most morally repressive place on the planet.  There are places in the Muslim Middle East, matched by the American Bible Belt, where anything even smacking of enjoyment, is flatly forbidden, or fiercely frowned upon.  In Ontario, some killjoy politicians may pass legislation, but after that, it’s just the rule-following sheep who work to prevent the goats from having any fun.

Alcohol and tobacco are moving in opposite directions here.  A recent visit to a smoke shop in Detroit reminded me of what I haven’t seen around here in years – dozens of brands of cigarettes, and cigars, and loose tobacco, cigarette holders, pipes, ash trays, even bongs.

In Ontario, convenience stores are forced to hide all that behind plastic or cardboard covers.  See no sin – do no sin!  That worked so well during Prohibition.  When a pack of smokes is pulled out, the manufacturers are forced to use ¾ of the package to display pictures of diseased organs, rotted teeth, and a saggy cigarette, hanging down in a 90 degree arc, above a notice warning, “Caution!  Smoking may cause impotence.”  F**k you!…..if I could.

Ontario has come a long way towards normalizing alcohol enjoyment and use, but we still have a long way to go.  Up here in ‘civilization’, a “party store” will provide paper hats, candles, confetti, crepe paper, and Happy Birthday banners, whereas, down in the states…..

My childhood neighboring small town was “dry.”  No alcohol of any kind could be bought or sold.  It remained that way for years – as long as the voters could stagger to the polls.  Bootleggers were endemic.  Average alcohol consumption was estimated at twice what my town’s was.

Past, and present, rules often seem to make no sense.  No establishment which serves alcohol may have double-swinging “barroom doors,” whether external or inner access, although Ontario will let you have a beer while you watch naked strippers, something many American locations will not allow.

Bars, and licensed restaurants, have only existed for the last 30/40 years.  Prior to that, hotels provided “beverage rooms,” two per establishment, one for men, and another for “Ladies and Escorts.”  You could have 11 drunks around a table, as long as there was one token female.

Waiters/waitresses could only serve one drink per customer at a time, keeping them constantly moving, bringing out all those singles.  If you saw a friend over in the corner, you were not allowed to pick up your drink and go join him.  The law required the already overworked server to carry your drink over for you.

When bars and lounges started popping up, you still couldn’t order just booze, food had to accompany it.  A round of drinks would include a vending-machine cheese sandwich.  Often, the server would scoop it up with the empties, and re-deliver and charge for it with the next round.

Beer was bought at buildings labelled “Brewers Retail,” until enough confused American tourists forced the monopoly to rebrand clearly, as “The Beer Store.”  There, that wasn’t hard, was it??  😕

They’re starting to sell a bit of beer now, but for years, the government-owned Liquor Control Board monopoly stores sold only wine and distilled spirits.  No spectre of Big Brother there.   In my lifetime, we have come from:

Immediately after WW II, you had to go to the Liquor Store and provide identification and proof of age (21 years).  You were given a small notebook, and were allowed, once a week, to buy only as much as you could list on that week’s page.  If you missed so much as a 2-ounce bottle of bitters for whiskey sours, you were forced to wait until the next week.

In the ‘60s, we moved to a paper slip system.  Write the catalog number of the booze(s) you wanted, and a clerk disappeared into the nether-world of the back room, where, presumably, elves brewed the stuff up, out of the sight of the susceptible public.  Since people didn’t move around, you could be put on The List.  If you were caught drunk in public last Saturday night, the liquor store would refuse to serve you this Thursday, and perhaps for several weeks, until a manager unilaterally decided to annul the sentence.

Finally, we have reached the point where we can actually see the stuff on the shelf, put it in our own little shopping cart, and pay for it at the checkout.  Be careful though.  Some of those weird rules still exist.  “Only people 19+ can legally handle alcohol in LCBO stores.”

A local mother stopped into an LCBO store to pick up an eight-pack of Guinness for her husband.  While she dug her wallet out of her purse, her 17-year-old son helped out by placing the beer on the counter.  The clerk immediately asked him for ID.  He explained that the beer was not for him, but for his mother, who would pay for it, but the Can’t Touch It rule had already come into effect.

She went back and brought a pack up by herself, but now the manager came over, and accused her of buying the beer for a minor.  He claimed that staff is highly trained to prevent “second buying.”  All very noble, but this staff could never be accused of second thinking.

Bureaucracy exists to assure its own continued existence – and some strange restrictions and regulations.