Even though English and French are Canada’s official languages, a myriad of slangs completes the country’s vocabulary. While some words are known across Canada, some are unique to a certain province or area, reflecting its own quirks and demographics. Some are borrowed from other languages, whereas some could be misunderstood without a proper context. Besides the mostly commonly used, such as Timmies, double-double, loonie or toonie, how many of these Canadian slangs do you know? Where did they originate?
Booter/Soaker: used as a noun to describe what happens when you step into a puddle and get your foot wet.
Bunnyhug (also bunnyhug): a hooded sweatshirt, used exclusively in Saskatchewan. This term could come from a clothing accessory made from a rabbit’s pelts nearly a century ago, when there was a bunny overpopulation in Saskatchewan.
Bush party: an outdoor party by young people in the wilderness to avoid parental or police control. This term is used predominantly in Ontario.
B’y: boy, dude, or buddy.
Cabin (also cottage/camp): a vacation home. Cabin is mainly used in British Columbia.
Coastie: a person from Vancouver or the lower mainland.
Come from away: can be used as a noun or a verb phrase to describe someone who is not from Atlantic Canada.
Dep: a neighborhood convenience store in Quebec (short for depanneur in French)
Fill your boots (also Fill yer boots): a phrase with origins from Newfoundland, meaning “Help yourself,” or “Do whatever you want.”
Give’er (also Giv’n’r): can be used as a noun or a phrase of encouragement to mean an impressive feat or give it all you’ve got (in work, drinking, sport).
Gotchies (also gotch, gonch, gonchies, gaunch, gauch, gitch): refers to underwear, especially men’s. This is a borrowed word from Eastern European languages, brought to Ontario and the Prairie provinces by immigrants.
Hang a Larry: turn left.
Hang a Roger: turn right.
Hoser: an unsophisticated young man. This term was popularized by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas from their comedy television skit “Great White North”.
Klick: a kilometer.
Mickey: a flask-size bottle of liquor that can fit into a person’s hand.
Scribbler: a notebook in Atlantic Canada.
Skookum: an adjective to describe good, great, strong, big or brave, mostly used in British Columbia. This word has its roots from Chinook Jargon, an Indigenous trade language on the Canadian west coast.
Sobeys bag (also Sobey’s bag): Unique to the Maritimes provinces, this term refers to any kind of plastic grocery bag (regardless of brands). Sobeys is a grocery store headquartered in Nova Scotia.
Two-four: a case of 24 beers.
Whale’s tail(also beaver tail and elephant ear): a dessert made from fried dough, topped with sugar and a variety of adds-on.
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