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.
Great Canadian Sayings
People must be pretty confused when we tell them:
“A Coffee Crisp costs about a Loonie, pretty good deal eh?”
“I’d like a dozen Timbits with a large double double please.”
What on earth does that mean? Let me explain.
Canadian Slang – How To Speak Canadian
To listen to how we Canadian’s talk, watch our video of these two 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. “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 it rhymes with Loonie and we Canadians like things that rhyme.
Its 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 Bob and Doug Mackenzie as a kid wearing their tuques telling each other to “Take Off Eh” and never thought anything of it.
Then I started traveling and made statements like “Its cold tonight, I should have brought my tuque,” People looked at me like I was from another planet.
It is simple, a tuque is a knitted hat 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, 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 bathroom, and restroom, I have seen water closet, 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.
It’s mediocre coffee that we are all mysteriously addicted to.
We have even opened a Tim Hortons in Afghanistan for our troops overseas.
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.
Yummy. Tim Hortons by the way 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. I am going to get a 2-4 of Canadian at the Beer Store.
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 a Mickey in Canada. It’s 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 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 Canadian. I didn’t realize that we are the only people in the world that call their electricity.
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 the Hydro. It’s as ingrained in our vocabulary as much as eh and looney.
This is what we Canadians call our Backpack or Rucksack. To Canadian’s it is a knapsack.
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 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.
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 and how nice it was.
I had no idea what this meant until I was older. It 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.
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 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.
14. About Not 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.
Canadian’s don’t say aboot, we say it more like A-boat. And I like the way we say about.
The American pronunciation is more like a-bow-t. (as in take a bow)
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.
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.
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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