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.

Flash Fiction #158

Hot

PHOTO PROMPT © Yarnspinnerr

HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN

He’d thought through this move and job change well…. At least he thought he’d thought it through well.  More money, better perks, better advancement chances – yup!  Best of all, no more Pennsylvania winters, so cold they froze his ballpoint pens off, and shovelling snow, drifted as high as an elephant’s aah…..  eye.

Only after moving did he think – if Atlanta’s that warm in the winter, how hot is it in the summer?? Don’t Georgia houses automatically come with air-conditioning?  Praise Saint George Carrier!  What was his promised installation date again??  He might have to sleep in the office until then.  😯

***

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

***

Click on the title if you’d like to hear Leon Redbone sing A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight, a happy little ditty from 1927, a time of Flappers, bathtub gin, and no worries about nuclear war.

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #124

hospital

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE’S MANY A SLIP

It wasn’t much of a fall, almost artistic, like a failed ballet step.  One little icy sidewalk patch – and suddenly he was down on his ass, examining it close-up.  He even got an ambulance ride to the hospital – and a $75 invoice.  A taxi would have been cheaper.

Tests, tests, and more tests! X-rays, CAT-scan, MRI….he almost glowed from all the radiation.  A couple of days recovery, and he would be allowed to hobble home.

He hadn’t thought his brother would even bother to visit. Someone needed to teach him flower protocol.  Lilies are not appropriate for a bad sprain.

***

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

 

CANADA D’Eh?

Canadian Flag

July 1 is CANADA DAY!

In celebration, I slept in till after noon….wait, that’s my regular schedule.  In any case, it took me a while to get my mind firing on all three cylinders, steal research the following fascinating information about my great country, and get it out to all my foreign followers.

ARE THE STEREOTYPES ABOUT CANADA TRUE?

It’s always winter here

False. There is, almost always, a stretch of several weeks between the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the start of curling season when it is warm enough for mosquitoes to thrive. This is when we go camping. In fact, according to Environment Canada the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was on July 5, 1937, when it reached 45 C in Midale and Yellowgrass, Sask. You know where else it reaches 45 C? The Sahara desert. Saskatchewan: the Morocco of the North.

We say “eh” after every sentence

False.  A lot of sentences end with “Stanley Cup,” “puck,” or “sorry.”

We’re all very polite

See previous item. Actually, a poll by Angus Reid last year found that 56 per cent of Canadians reported using profanity on a regular or occasional basis, higher than both Brits (51 per cent) and Americans (46 per cent). But are we more profane or are we just less likely to hang up on pollsters? In fact, Canada had 554 murders in 2010, according to Statistics Canada. That’s 1.62 homicides per 100,000, compared to 4.8 in the United States, 13 in Russia, 18 in Mexico and 78 in Honduras, the deadliest country in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

We all play hockey

False. There is a rumour that several people somewhere in the Metro Vancouver region do not play hockey or understand what offside and icing are, and the relentless mocking of neighbours and co-workers has so far failed to convince them to pick up some skates and get with the game. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, Canada is the hockey-playingest nation in the world, with 572,411 registered hockey players, male and female, which amounts to 1.68 per cent of the population.

We drink a lot of beer

False, it seems. According to statistics compiled by Ranker.com, Canada pulls in at 21st among beer-swilling nations, swigging a meagre 68.3 litres per capita annually. That’s well behind Hungary, at 75.3 litres, and just ahead of Latvia, at 68 litres. Czechs more than double the pitiful tippling of Canadians, downing 158.6 litres of beer per capita per year. Ireland wins silver in the quaffing World Cup, at 131.1 litres per person. Per capita consumption of beer peaked in Canada in 1981, at 99.69 litres, says Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

We hate Americans

Wrong again. We share a language, a culture, a lot of television shows and 8,891 kilometres worth of border across land and water. We have the largest bilateral relationship of any two nations on Earth, and aside from the beer thing and burning down the White House in the War of 1812, we get along quite famously. According to Statistics Canada, they’re our best friends and we, theirs. The federal agency says more than 24.5 million Americans came to Canada to say “hey” in 2010, compared to 4.5 million visitors from other countries, and almost 20 million Canadians went to the U.S. to say “eh,” compared to the 1.4 million Canadians who went to Mexico, our second bestie.

We speak French

Mais oui. Un peu. In the 2006 federal census, 17.8 million Canadians identified themselves as speaking English and 6.8 million as speaking French, while 98,625 said they spoke English and French. Almost 300,000 others said they spoke English and/or French and another language. Overachievers.

Igloo

We live in igloos

We wish, because igloos are very cool, but the truth is that the igloo is the ingenious invention of the Inuit people of the Arctic. While Inuit traditionally used hide tents for their summer homes and sod homes in winter, they also built igloos for shelter when they were out on the land in winter. Igloos are built of blocks of snow stacked one atop the other to form a dome. They’re easy to construct and warm inside, offering fast and secure shelter in one of the harshest climates on Earth.

Modern Inuit – of which there are more than 50,000, according to the 2006 federal census – have settled in permanent communities throughout the North and live in houses like their southern Canadian cousins, but many continue to keep their hunting and fishing traditions alive.

We ride dogsleds

While riding public transit at rush hour can certainly evoke feelings of being at the mercy of a pack of rabid dogs, there are some subtle but important differences.

One: Sled dogs are actually quite well-behaved, or they wouldn’t be sled dogs. They would be dogs who chew shoes and chase Canada Post employees.
Two: Public transit smells bad, and while sled dogs themselves aren’t exactly a breath of fresh air, you do have to be out in the fresh air to be driving a dog sled.
Three: A dog team can run up to 32 kilometres an hour, says the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, while buses at rush hour rarely reach those kinds of speeds.

There are many differences but most importantly, mushing is a rural sport while riding public transit is a predominantly urban sport, and according to the 2006 federal census, of the 31,612,897 residents of Canada in 2006, only 6,262,154 of them lived in rural Canada. The same explanation stands for canoeing, although many Canadian city dwellers do venture outdoors, ignoring their common sense and overcoming childhood memories of summer camp to undertake such foolhardy activities as camping in tents, swimming in non-chlorinated natural formations and kayaking. A survey by Statistics Canada found that in 2004 alone, 13.6 million trips were taken by Canadians to visit national and provincial parks, and 8.2 million trips were taken to go boating, including canoeing and kayaking.

We all wear toques

Much to the chagrin of Canadian fashionistas, this one is true. And when the mercury drops into frostbite territory, many go full-out voyageur and pull the toques down over their ears.

Canada Kicks Ass

#475

 

Flash Fiction #47

Hawaii

PHOTO PROMPT – © Douglas M. MacIlroy

PER ARDUA AD ASTRA

When Bob heard that he’d been awarded an internship at the Moana Kea Observatories in Hawaii, he thought he was going to Heaven.

When his boss picked him up for work the first night, he found out that Hawaii has six of the seven global climate zones.  There are no deserts, but it ranges from Tropical, to Arctic where he would be working.

With frigid fingers, he quickly called his Mom in Chicago to send his winter coat, but the views were well worth the trouble.  He could see Heaven spread out below him, and Heaven in the stars above.

***

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

***

And if I’d been born rich, instead of so darned handsome, I’d be living near lucky Doug MacIlroy in Hawaii, where he was fortunate enough to snap this awesome photo.

#448

 

Minutia VI

I composed this post way back in the early fall, and tucked it away in a Word file.  Then I got distracted by the shiny 100-word Flash Fictions and failed to publish it.  Just pretend that it is still late October/early November, and you still have a cold, snowy winter ahead of you.  That way, this submission from the late Archon won’t seem as bad.   🙄

***

Everybody’s entitled to an opinion – so I’ll give you one of mine.  I have to get up earlier these days, just to have enough time to spread all of them around.

The voices in my head have decided that I’m imaginary.
I think paranoid people are following me.

My old eyes are still good enough to drive without glasses, but I do miss certain details.  Out driving with daughter LadyRyl the other day, I slowly overtook a motorcycle.  From a quarter-mile back, I knew there were too many wheels.  At first I thought it might be a Spyder motorcycle, which son, Shimoniac is considering buying. They have two widely-spaced wheels at the front, for greater stability.

Spyder

As I got closer, I thought it might be a trike motorcycle, with two wheels at the rear, for carrying an extra passenger, but I could now see a single rear wheel….yet still, more than two.

Trike

Perhaps he’s got a sidecar – but a sidecar would be on the right – and I can see a wheel to his left.

Sidecar

As we finally overtook him, daughter, LadyRyl, snapped this photo.  Here’s a big, tough Harley-Davidson biker – with training wheels!  I’ve never seen anything like this, and can’t think of any possible use for this set-up.  I’m going to stop in at a couple of bike shops and ask.  Any of you have an opinion??

Biker Dude

****

Cardinals (the birds) are almost as cautious and unseen as Blue Jays.  You hear them, but you very seldom see them.  A pair nests in the big pine trees near the daughter’s place.  This spring and summer they hatched and raised a batch of chicks, which are now ready to fly.  They’re not quite as skittish as the adults.  About to leave the daughter’s place recently, I noticed a fledgling in the Rose of Sharon bush right in front of her door.

She quickly grabbed up the camera, but, by the time she got in position, it had fluttered to the concrete.  Slowly, quietly, she edged to the door to get a shot….and just as she clicked the shutter, it took off.  I had hoped to submit it to the local paper, which prints cute wildlife photos each day.  This is more “artistic” than real life.  I hope you enjoy.  What do you think of it?

Baby Cardinal

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.