Welcome to Canada, the land of ice hockey, maple trees, yetis and constant apologies. The Great White North has even more to offer than clichés: you’ll be glad to know the country has a distinct own linguistic identity.
You may still be processing British slang words, but we’ve decided you’re ready to get Canadian. Here’s a small sampling of some uniquely Canadian slang that’s likely to come in handy, eh?
If things go south, it’s time to head south. “Snowbirds” is a metaphorical term to refer to Canadian citizens – usually retirees – who choose to flee south during winter months to avoid the cold. These people are most likely to cross the border to Arizona or Florida, a land where snow is only but a myth.
Did you know? There is even a “Canadian Snowbird Association” made up of 80,000 members.
Example: Look at those Snowbirds packing their RV, I bet they’re heading to Miami!
This next entry is a perfect example of provincial slang. Short for “dépanneur” (“repairman”), the term was originally used to refer to a convenience store in the French-speaking province of Québec. Today, this abbreviation is very common among English-speaking Canadians in reference to corner stores for everyday basics.
Example: I’m heading out to the dep, do you need anything? Beer? Cat food? Dental floss?
Another great example of Canadianism lies in the term “washroom”. The latter is a euphemistic term to refer to toilets, restroom or bathroom, depending on which side of the world you are. The confusion is real, people.
Example: His date went to the restaurant washroom and never came back. Unlucky.
Loonie / Toonie (or Twoonie)
The word “loonie” is a typical slang word which refers to the $1 Canadian coin. Its name comes from Loon, a bird from Ontario depicted on the “tails” side of the one-dollar Canadian coin. Subsequently, a “toonie” or “twonie” is the name given to the $2 coin, and is a blend of the words “two” and “loonie”.
Example: “All I’ve got is a loonie. Should we order an Uber instead?”
Most commonly heard in Western Canada, one would use “parkade” to refer to a multi-level parking garage. It’s usually an outdoor structure, but Canadians use this term interchangeably to refer to an underground parking garage as well.
Example: Let’s hurry up and head to the parkade before they charge us more loonies.
Objectively the most iconic and versatile Canadian slang word, “eh” (pronounced “ay”) has so many different meanings and usage your brain may well explode. Canadians usually use “eh?” to state an opinion (“the beer is cheap here, eh?”), to indicate surprise (“what a game, eh?”) or as a narrative when telling a gripping story (“so I was at this bar, eh?”).
Note: the British English equivalent is the term “innit?” (isn’t it).
Ready for some more Canadianism? Try our online English course Gymglish – short, fun and personalized English lessons to improve your English.
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