When you learn English in a language school you are taught how to speak and write ‘proper’ English. Slang terms are not part of a conventional English course.
The big surprise hits you when you visit an English speaking country and hear strange expressions and slang you’ve never heard before.
Because of the large size of the country, it’s no surprise that Canadian slang throughout Canada varies. All of the lingo mentioned here I either use myself or have heard it being used. Some terms are typically Canadian, and others are used in other English speaking countries as well.
The guide is meant for travellers to Canada to introduce you to common Canadian slang. Try it out with the locals and you will make friends really fast!
A list of common slang that will help you get by
Canuck – a Canadian. He is a real Canuck.
Eh? – used at the end of a sentence. Don’t you agree? That place was great, eh?
Keener – someone who is eager to learn, studies hard and always participates. “Stop being such a keener.”
Give’r – give it all you got. Apply 110 % of your effort (partying, working, Canadian sports)
Bittie – girl. She is such a nice bittie, always has been.
Toque – a wool hat. Get your toque, it’s chilly outside.
Mickey – a flask-sized bottle of liquor. I’ll grab a mickey for tonight.
Cowtown – a term to describe Calgary, Alberta
Double-Double – coffee with two creams and two sugars. Stop at Tim’s, I need a double-double.
Klick – a kilometre. Keep on driving down that road for about 10 klicks.
Two-Four – a case of 24 beers. I’m on the way to the liqueur store to pick up a two-four.
Whitener – non-dairy coffee creamer. Sorry, no coffee cream but you can add whitener.
Yarn – to chat. Let’s go for a cuppa and have a yarn.”
Washroom – bathroom or toilet. Where is your washroom?
Hooped – screwed up, beyond repair. You really hooped it this time.
Loonie / Toonie – a dollar / 2 dollars. All I have left is a loonie, I used my last toonie to buy gum. Head over here for more Canadian coin slang.
Runners – running shoes. I will get my runners.
Bunny-hug or hoody – a hooded sweater. I love your new bunny-hug. I love your hoody.
Boonies – somewhere far from the city. We’re heading out for the boonies for free camping.
Dart – cigarette. I’m going outside for a dart.”
Smoke – cigarette. Hey, got a smoke?
Snowbird – a Canadian who goes away to a warmer place for the winter months. My dad is a snowbird, he drives down to Arizona in November every year!”
Out for a rip – out for a drive. Fancy going out for a rip this afternoon?
Cheeky – good, smart. You’re cheeky, are you?
Crook – ill or sick. I’m feeling a bit crook.
Flat out – as fast or as hard as possible. I’ve been working flat out.
Fortnight – once every two weeks; a period of consecutive 14 days.
Gas – we get gas or gasoline to fill up our vehicles, and also gas for the barbeque.
Kitty-corner – diagonally across from something. The gas station is kitty-cornered to the hotel.
I’m stuffed – full, ate too much.
Good on you – great job, well done.
Heaps – a lot. Thanks, heaps!
Tap – faucet – The kitchen tap is leaking.
Dickhead – stubborn. He is a dickhead.
Muck – to clean a place or building where farm animals live. It was always my job to muck out the barn.
Deadshit – unpleasant or boring, know it all. What a deadshit person.
Whinger – a person who complains a lot. My friend Jack is such a whinger.
Cheers – to say cheers before drinking, but also to say thanks.
Book off work – to take off time from work. I’m going to book off work next week.
Write a test – to take a test. I’m writing a test today in English.
Cheque – a personal bank check. I can write you a cheque for $100.
English spelling in Canada is a mixture of British and American English. Depending on where you come from you will find it strange how we spell certain words in Canada. See some examples below:
How To Learn Canadian Slang
A good way to get used to Canadian slang is by watching Canadian movies. Canada is known for its film industry and we have a large selection of excellent Canadian films. By watching Canadian movies you will be exposed to lots of Canadian slang. If you have trouble understanding the dialogue, turn on the subtitles while you watch.
Watch your favourite Canadian movie several times to memorize the slang words you don’t know.
Read Canadian magazines and newspapers. If you don’t live in Canada, read online versions of your favourite publications.
Slang is an essential part of how locals communicate. Knowing some of the slang words will make your travel experience so much better. Throw in a few phrases from this guide next time you meet a Canuck (Canadian) and see how fast you make a new friend.
Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.
I enjoyed that. Very interesting and nice to see some British spelling in North America lol
Yes, good to know we have something in common! I didn’t try to steal… the Brits probably brought it over here!
Do you happen to know if there are any stores in Tuktoyaktuk that sell t-shirts and/or other souvenirs? And possibly an email address for them? I am planning a trip to Alaska and since they just opened the road to Tuk, I thought I’d take the scenic route (as if there is a non scenic route).
I have always had a policy: If you went somewhere and didn’t buy a T-shirt, you weren’t really there… except for jail.
Hello Don, you will be able to buy local souvenirs for sure but not sure about T-shirts. I will find out for you and let you know. When are you planning to be there? Maybe I will see you on the road?
Don, you will be able to get stickers in Tuktoyaktuk. I didn’t get a confirmation on T-shirts but I did suggest that they would have some ready for us!
I’m a Canadian (from Toronto) and have never ever heard “Bittie”, “Give’r”,”Mickey” , “Click”, “Hooped”, “Yarn”, “Dart”,”Out for a rip”, “Crook”, “Flat Out”, “Fort Night”, “Bunny Hug” (hoody though is always used), “Whinger”, “Deadshit”, “Book off work”…. But maybe they are more regional?
The rest I know, but majority of people (or people I grew up around) would never ever say Toque, they just say hat for any winter type of hat 😉 It really depends where you live, as I find family in Ottawa use the word Toque, but it’s not so common in Toronto. Also a lot of Canadians do not say “eh”, however many do still. Another one unique to us is “Pencil Crayon” which is a coloured pencil, and “Pop” which is a soft drink (apparently some Americans say this, but it’s considered to be not so sophisticated).
Thanks, Emily for your great input. You are right, a huge country like Canada uses different slang in different parts of the land. I spent a fair bit of time in the Yukon lately and have some northern slang to add as well. Time for a blog update soon! Thanks again.
I am a Canadian from the East Coast and have most definitely heard of Give’r, Mickey, Click, Yarn, Out for a rip, Flat out, Whinger- I know a few, and book off work. Maybe some of these are used by different generations and some are regional. I agree with you- most Canadians do not use “eh”- that’s so 1980s!
Thanks for reaching out. I’m planning to give this post an overhaul and add more to it. Input is always welcome.