This guide to over 100 Canadian slang words initially started out as 20 words, but I kept remembering other terms from my friends and travels around the country. It quickly got out of hand, so here we are with 100+ Canadianisms for you to learn and share!
I’ve always loved language. I think it’s fascinating how terms develop and change over time and across borders.
Growing up Canadian, I figured all of our terms came from America and Britain. Other than “eh?” and “sorry”, I didn’t actually know we had our own linguistic identity.
After travelling for the last few years and causing some VERY confused faces, I can assure you that we definitely do.
Canadian slang isn’t as obvious as other country’s. We use the terms so simply that people barely register them. They change from province to province and city to city without much notice.
It’s only when you leave the country and try to convince your British friends that “kitty-corner” is a real term or your American friends beg you to say “out and about” again that you really notice it.
Living around Canada, especially in the Maritimes, I learned even more fascinating Canadianisms that I wish were more widely known. In my four years in Nova Scotia, my accent changed and my vocabulary widened.
Special thanks to my Islander friend for teaching me PEI fighting words, which is possible the best Youtube video I’ve ever seen and the perfect documentation of a PEI accent.
If you’re from Canada, I think it’s important to learn these terms to know more about our national identity. If you’re from abroad, read on to see the crazy terms we use and think are normal.
Either way, I hope you laugh and learn while reading this guide to 100+ Canadian slang words.
- 1 Canadianisms
- 2 National Canadian Slang
- 3 Canadian Slang for Places
- 4 Regional Canadian Slang
Canadians have a lot of interesting mannerisms, but not all are technically slang. To give you a more in depth look at how Canadians talk, I’ve included some interesting Canadianisms.
If you’ve ever watched an American version of Canadians then you’ve seen this. It’s true, we do often end sentences with “eh?”.
“Eh?” is sort of our equivalent of saying “right?” or “you know?”. It’s just much more succinct and over the years its become a part of our national identity.
This is a Commonwealth trait that we have left over from Britain, as it’s just as rampant in New Zealand.
Canadians will be agreeing with you, but they say “yeah, no”. It’s confusing to newcomers, especially if English isn’t your first language. We apologize but for some reason it’s ingrained in us!
You may have noticed I just snuck in an apology above.
Well it’s true what they say, Canadians are the kindest people in the world. Ok, maybe not the kindest but we’re pretty polite.
To fit in while you’re in Canada, be sure to say please and thank you to any one who serves or assists you in any way. Hold doors open for people and, even if someone stumbles into you, apologize.
This is another holdover from our British colonizers but we’ve seemed to up the ante over the years and now have them beat for politeness (maybe because we didn’t invade most of the world… just saying).
Out East vs. Out West
Across Canada, we tend to think of our home as being the centre of the country. It doesn’t matter where you are, that’s the middle. Everything is east or west of you.
For BC, that means that the whole country is “out east”. For the Maritimes, the rest of the country is “out west”.
Even from Toronto, we refer to “out west” as everything west of us. Oddly, we don’t think of Quebec as east – it’s sort of its own thing. So “out east” is the Maritimes from Ontario.
South vs. North
This messed up spacial awareness continues when we talk about going north or south.
All Canadians know that we have a vast northern landscape, but hardly any of us actually visit it. It’s more likely that if you hear someone say they are going “north”, they mean north of their current location.
I often use this to describe going cottaging in Muskoka, which is still barely halfway up Ontario.
However, going south is a whole other thing. Typically if you’re going south, you’re going down somewhere warm like Florida or the Caribbean.
Out and About
As you can tell, I have a special relationship with out and about, since I named my blog after it.
“Out and about” is the cliche thing that every American I meet always gets me to say in my Canadian accent. They find it hilarious for reasons I can’t quite figure out.
Despite all their teasing, it is actually a term we use. I don’t know which came first: America’s obsession with it or our general use. Either way, you probably will hear someone say it in passing while you’re in Canada.
National Canadian Slang
Generally speaking, these are Canadian slang terms used across the country. Some are more obscure than others, but they’re all really fun.
There are some that I genuinely didn’t know were Canadian and judged friends I’ve met around the world for not knowing them. Like “kitty-corner”; how else do you say when things are diagonally across an intersection without so many words??
We have a lot of Canadian slang, so I’ll be dividing these into categories to make them easier to understand.
A toque is a knit winter hat like a beanie.
Lumberjack Jacket or Mackinac/Mackinaw Cloth
This jacket is typically checkered with large black and red or green squares. It was the uniform of the lumbermen working in Canada, but is now more popular in the grunge fashion movement.
Joggers used to mean sweatpants. It still does, but sweatpants have become more prominent. It can now be confused with the term joggers for baggy women’s pants.
This is an older Canadian term. Nowadays, we’ve become properly American-ized and call then bathrobes or robes. If people have a house coat, it’s often nicer than your simple plush bathrobe.
Again, this is a term Americans love to make us say.
By now most of the world knows the Canadian tuxedo: wearing an all denim outfit. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake helped get this horrible fashion choice into the mainstream, but it continues to be a thing in Canada. Many people wear a denim shirt with denim pants and/or a denim jacket.
I’ve found them most common in the Prairies although the Maritimes is full of them in Fall.
These words are all interchangeable for underwear, think tight whities. They’re most common in the Prairies, though Saskatchewan and Alberta debate the “i” vs. “o”.
It seems like they are used more often for male underwear than female.
Running shoes! We use terms like sneakers and running shoes as well, but something about saying runners is apparently distinctly Canadian.
I’ve been saying it for years and annoying my dad that I won’t just say shoes, but apparently I was being patriotic the whole time!
A two-four is a 24 (2 and 4) pack of beer.
Note: this is not to be confused with May two-four (24) weekend, which is a holiday in Canada. However, the holiday does tend to involve a lot of beer, so do with that what you will.
A Mickey is about a flask sized measure of alcohol that you can buy from the grocery store.
Tim Hortons is such an intrinsic part of Canada that we’l built it into the dialogue. Timmies (among other nicknames) refers to Canada’s largest coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons.
A double double is a coffee order from Tim Hortons. If you order your coffee this way, you’ll get one with two creams and two sugars. Similarly you can order a single single or a triple triple (although that sounds like a lot of dairy and sugar).
A right of passage in Canada was bringing timbits into your school classes. We even have them at office meetings now.
Timbits are essentially a doughnut hole (as American’s would know them). However, Tim Hortons makes a cakier style of doughnut than most, so expect it to be a bit denser and less fried than a doughnut hole.
They come in a variety of flavours and are sold individually or by the box. I’ve always loved them because it lets me sample a bunch of doughnut flavours when I’m too indecisive to pick one.
This is both a slang and a trend among Canadian men. A Molson Muscle refers to a beer belly, typically acquired by drinking too much Molson beer.
KD is childhood classic that’s become a university classic…and now a Canadian classic.
Kraft Dinner is a box of mac and cheese that you can make at home. It’s super simple and oddly delicious for something made with powdered cheese.
Freezies are what Americans call “ice pops”, “freeze pops” or “otter pops”. We call them freezies which to me makes the most sense since you freeze them and they aren’t fully popsicles.
No this isn’t a derogatory term or anything. It means homogenized milk, or milk with 3.25% fat that’s blended in differently than in 2% milk. It’s not the same as whole milk, so we came up with a short form. If you don’t expect it, it’s weird to see “homo milk” laid out in an aisle of the grocery story.
These are all the names of the liquor stores across Canada. In Canada, our liquor stores are government run and cannot be in grocery stores. These abbreviations are for the longer form government names for our liquor stores.
The $1 Canadian coin. Its name comes from the Loon (a bird) on the Tails side of the coin.
Toonie (as I prefer to spell it) comes from Loonie. It’s basically two loonies, so we came up with toonie. It’s our $2 coin.
Like Americans, we refer to dollars and bucks. That comes from our history fur trading.
I didn’t know this was a Canadian thing for a long time.
In the winter, Canadians break out their toboggans or sleds to go tobogganing down snowy hills.
Muskoka chairs are classic wooden chairs made for lounging. They are usually brightly painted and have quite a low seat with a very high back and thick arms.
In the US, these are called Adirondack chairs. The name changes based on the significant body of water near you.
This is another one of those American-entertainment terms. I’ve literally never heard anyone outside of American television use this term.
Chesterfields are sofas or couches. It’s a very old term that has mostly fallen out of fashion.
I didn’t know this was a Canadian thing, but apparently it’s not common around the world. Serviettes are napkins. It may be a holdover from our British colonialism or due to the French populations of Canada.
Darts refer to cigarettes.
Another term I had no idea was very Canadian specific! Pencil crayons are pencils that feature coloured graphite.
Pencil crayons are what Americans call “colored pencils” and the British call “colouring pencils”.
I don’t know why we broke away from the two places that we get a lot of our language, but it’s sort of a fun rebellion on our part.
Sasquatch isn’t just a term, it’s actually a Canadian creature. Our Sasquatch is said to be in British Columbia.
Essentially, a Sasquatch is a large, hairy figure in the woods that has a lot of lore surrounding it. It’s like the American Big Foot or the northern Yeti.
Over the years, people have started using the term to refer to Big Foot as well, but he’s supposed to be his own thing.
Rink rat is a term for someone who spends a lot of time at hockey arenas. It’s more common to use it for men as it was derived when it was less popular for women to play hockey.
A puck bunny is a derogatory term for a female fan of hockey. It insinuates that she’s only interested in the game due to attraction to the players or attempting to date the players.
Some women enjoy the term and self-identify as puck bunnies (especially wives of famous hockey players).
A Mountie is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). They are the Canadian version of the FBI and deal with a lot of serious crimes. Americans often mock them on television, treating them more like camp rangers, when in fact that do a lot of very difficult work.
The original Mounties were all on horseback, but nowadays they take other forms of transit as well.
The red Mountie uniform is a classic sign of Canada.
Snowbirds are Canadian citizens, usually retirees, who flee south in the winter to avoid the cold. We call them snowbirds since they seem to migrate like the birds.
Typically, they go to Florida where there are large pockets of elderly residents and the weather is more temperate through the winter
A Canuck is a slang term for a Canadian person. It used to refer more to the French-Canadians but nowadays it’s a general term.
It’s most used when referring to the Vancouver Canucks hockey team rather than individuals nowadays.
Hoser is a classic Canadian stereotype. It’s a mild insult that refers back to the Depression when people in the Prairies used to steal gasoline.
Again, it’s mostly seen on American television. I’ve never actually heard someone say it in real life – but that might be because American TV ruined it for us.
I genuinely thought everyone had this term. Growing up I was 100% a keener. A keener is sort of a mix between a know-it-all and a goody-two-shoes. It typically refers to students who are teacher’s pets or trying to be.
Think Hermoine Granger – she’d be a classic keener.
We actually use this term a lot in Canada. Now it’s become more synonymous with nerd, but it has an affectionate sound to it so it’s less offensive.
Grits are members of the Liberal party of Canada.
This is one of my favourite terms, more so now that I know it’s Canadian specific.
Kitty-corner refers to something diagonally across the street from you. For example, you may say that Timmies is kitty-corner to your home if it is diagonally across an intersection.
In Canada, our electricity comes from the hydro electric power company. So where other countries get electrical bills, we get hydro bills. We now use it to refer to any energy bill.
Klick is slang for “kilometre”. It’s a military short form that we’ve adopted as a country.
This is most often said by hockey dads from what I can tell.
“Give’er” means to give it your all. It’s usually screamed, which is why it’s abbreviated.
Hang a Larry/Roger
Turn left (Larry) or right (Roger). Usually used for driving directions.
It’s unclear where this term came from but from what I can tell no actual hangings were involved (whew!).
I dispute this being a Canadian only term – I think it’s just fancier than what Americans usually use. However, it’s very commonly referred to, even by Canadians, as being Canadian slang.
A kerfuffle is a commotion or fuss. Usually it’s not used to refer to a physical fight, but that varies.
Of course, every country has the term “beauty” or some form of it. But Canadians use it differently.
To us, a beauty is something that has done well or a great person. This can range from a car being a beauty (sometimes just “beaut” depending on the accent) to someone who did something nice for you.
It has no relation to their actual appearance.
I say this so often it’s ridiculous.
For some reason, rather than saying “ok”, we say “true”. Often it’s not even a true or false statement!
If someone says something entertaining, you’d respond with “jokes”. Usually the entertaining statement is funny in some way, but I’ve seen it used kind of like “lol” where you just don’t really have another response.
A parkade is a parking garage. Typically it’s an outdoor structure, but we use it interchangeably to refer to an underground parking garage as well.
To biff something is to mess it up. If you tripped, you biffed it.
It’s a less popular term nowadays, but you will still hear Canadians saying it.
I don’t know if this is common elsewhere, but in Canada we celebrate our champagne birthday with extra fan fair.
Your champagne birthday is when you turn the same age as your birthdate. For example, if you’re born on July 15th, your 15th birthday is your champagne birthday.
It’s a lot more fun when you’re of legal drinking age. If you’re 1, then it’s sort of a let down.
I had to include this term with the insane heat and humidity we’re currently getting in Toronto. I mean, why on earth is it nearly 40C every single day??
Our “humidex”, short for humidity index, is how Canadian meteorologists determine how hot it feels outside. For example, it may be 28C, but with the humidex it feels like 35C.
Deke comes from the hockey move of faking to maneuver around an opponent. It’s become part of our daily language. Now you can use it to deke out of a meeting or deke around traffic through shortcuts.
This term comes from the reservations that our Indigenous people live on across the country. That’s a dicey history that I won’t get into here, but I wanted to include the term since it’s very common amongst Canadians.
Canadian Slang for Places
Canadians have come up with a variety of nicknames for the provinces, cities and towns we live in. I haven’t included all of them for two reasons: 1) this list is already insanely long and 2) some can be derogatory.
Larger places like Toronto have gained many slang nicknames over the years, some of which are starting to fade.
Let’s start at the West Coast and work our way East.
The Big Smoke
Initially, this referred to Vancouver. Toronto has started trying to co-opt it, but Vancouverites still hold on to the term.
Calgary, due to the stampede and it’s cattle history.
Edmonton. It refers to the city’s Ukrainian population apparently.
A reference to anyone from the Prairies. When the fields are ploughed, especially the corn fields, it looks like stubble.
Refers to Sault St. Marie in Ontario.
Toronto. A derogatory term that has nothing to do with our meat production and everything to do with how the rest of the country felt about it.
Toronto. It refers to the 6 neighbourhoods that merged to make up Toronto. In 1998 the municipalities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, York, Scarborough and the former Toronto merged to make what is now Toronto.
The GTA stands for the Greater Toronto Area. It includes all of Toronto as well as neighbouring suburbs and municipalities.
The original name of Ottawa and now a common nickname.
This refers to anyone from the Maritime provinces in Atlantic Canada. Although Newfoundland isn’t technically a Maritime province because it joined Canada after the Maritime treaty, it tends to be included.
A nickname for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Commonly shortened to “hali”.
Anyone from Nova Scotia. This comes from the famous Blue Nose ship that used to fish and race in Nova Scotia.
Newfoundland. Refers to the island itself and not Labrador.
Although we have many islands, this term is meant for people from Prince Edward Island in the Maritimes.
Someone from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Someone from New Brunswick. It seems to relate to their Irish ancestry.
Regional Canadian Slang
Canada is HUGE. Even though all of our population is gathered towards the south of the country, there’s still a lot of country there. Accents and slang develop differently in each city and province, creating a great tapestry of Canadian dialects.
I was fascinated to learn how differently people speak a province over or a few cities north.
To help keep track of where these Canadian slang terms come from, I’ll be grouping them by their location.
Sour Toe Shot
The sour toe shot is a rite of passage in the Yukon. You can have the alcohol of your choice, drink it fast or slow, but your lips must touch the toe.
If you eat the toe, you’ll be fined HEAVILY.
It is in fact a real human toe that’s been mummified or preserved. It’s not the original any longer. Now, people actually donate their toes for it. If you lose one in a lawn mowing accident or to frost bite, send it over to the Yukon and they’ll put it to good use.
Northern Canadians use ever before words to add emphasis, sort of like saying very.
Technically this isn’t slang since it’s a translation, but it means “thank you”.
Northern slang for frozen whale skin and blubber.
The Yukon really loves sour things!
A sourdough is a permanent resident of the Yukon who has lived there for all four seasons.
It comes from the gold rush days when people had to live through harsh winters. Without yeast, sourdough was the only kind of bread they could make.
This is a BC specific term that means impressive or exceptional. I’ve also heard it used to describe someone who looks good, like complimenting a girlfriend.
A Vancouver special is a type of house with no basement where the first floor is rented out. Your living area is above the first floor. It refers to the bed rock in Vancouver that prevents basements and the insane housing prices that mean people need to rent.
BC has a lot of slang to refer to certain cities, often in a derogatory way. They also refer to their islands and the island (Vancouver Island) differently depending on where they live in the province.
Means “chocolate milk” in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
My favourite Canadian slang term that I use all the time – even though I don’t often wear them!
An unseasonably warm wind.
This is actually a strain of wind, like the El Niño, but people don’t usually say it to refer to the weather phenomenon. It’s become more of a colloquial term amongst Prairie residents.
Much like a puck bunny, buckle bunny is a derogatory term for a woman who follows rodeos. It’s most used in Calgary, where we have our largest rodeo. It implies that she’s only there for the cowboys, which isn’t always the case.
Oddly both terms mean the same thing: to seek a provider of alcohol.
This refers to the oil industries in Alberta.
To chirp someone is to verbally tease them in a mean or aggressive way.
Means “take it easy”. Not a common term in Southern Ontario.
This was a term I hoped died when I left high school, but unfortunately it’s stuck around.
Wheeling means to be in the early stages of dating someone. I’d call it courting but it’s never as romantic or reserved.
If you’re looking for a corner store, you’re looking for the dep. It comes from the French word “depanneur” which is the actual name for a convenience story.
They usually sell alcohol so it can also be used to refer to a liquor store.
The term comes from the French “les habitants”, but I guess we decided that’s too long and shortened it. Initially the term referred to French Canadian settlers of Quebec. Now it mostly refers to the Montreal Canadien hockey team.
A term for an anglophone in Quebec. It can also be a derogatory term for supporters of the Bloc Quebecois.
Flyé means something is over the top or extravagant.
Much like it sounds, tof means something is tough or difficult.
Screech is a Newfoundland rum that I think tastes little better than lighter fluid.
It’s part of their tradition (much like the sour toe shot). When you become a Newfoundlander, you have to drink Screech and kiss a cod (a dead fish they’ve got sitting around at the bar). Do this and you’ll be “screeched in”.
Fill yer boots
Means “go for it” or “help yourself”, especially when referring to food.
This term is starting to gain traction in Ontario, but it’s got its roots in the East Coast. To be sloshed is to be drunk.
Greasy is a term that Maritimers use to refer to someone who is sketchy or seems untrustworthy.
Pogey refers to unemployment. If someone is on unemployment, they are on pogey.
Nova Scotian slang for someone who is sketchy or greasy.
If you’re hosed, you’re drunk.
I hope you learned a bit more about Canadian – and how a lot of our slang seems to refer to alcohol.
There are so many more slang terms that I couldn’t fit into the post. If you’d like to learn more, do some research on regional slang or hang out with some fun Canadians (like me!) and see what you pick up.
I censored this post to remove any derogatory word or terms rooted in racism (you’d be surprised how many I had to cut). I don’t believe that those words are appropriate for the world I want to live in or for the future Canada is moving towards. While you can still find them on Canadian slang posts or the Wikipedia about Canadian language, I’ve genuinely never heard them used before. Hopefully that is a sign that we are moving away from this negative language and moving towards more positive, inclusive terms that are fun for all – like bunnyhug!
Although the term we use most often is sorry, I’m not sorry for the changes I made. I’m sorry that these terms existed in our history.
Help me move Canada forward by spreading these more positive slang terms (even buckle bunny as many women use it in an empowering way or own the stereotype).
See you next time and happy Canada day, eh?
What’s your favourite Canadian slang?
Looking for more awesome Canadian content?
Check out my Comprehensive Guide to Canadian Cuisine
Plan a Winter Weekend in Toronto with my itinerary
Head to cottage country to Discover Muskoka
Learn what it’s really like to live her with my 10 Pros and Cons to Living in Canada
Stuff yourself with my guide on Where to Eat in Toronto for All Budgets
Discover the Best Time to Visit Toronto
Find out my 5 Favourite Things to do in Halifax
Think you know all there is to know about Canada? Test your knowledge with my Canada Day Quiz