Can You Translate These Canadian Slang Words?


By: Allison Lips

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Canada is known for being cold, having citizens who love hockey, and having both French and English as national languages. However, it is so much more than that and that comes across in Canadian English.

While Canadians tend to get stereotyped as a bunch of people who sound mostly like Americans, except for when they say "out and about." it's not accurate at all. The accents might be similar, but Canadians have their own unique vocabulary that baffles their fellow English speakers. This vocabulary has been shaped by British English, French, Chinook Jargon and a myriad of other influences. 

Unlike American English, Canadian English kept many of the features found in British English. Canada spells meter as "metre" and center as "centre." The last letter of the alphabet is called "zed" instead of "zee." Both also have "eh" as part of their vocabulary, although Canadians get more mileage out of the word with its many different meanings, which change based on the inflection used. 

Are you ready for this quiz? Grab a plate of poutine, make yourself a Caesar and enjoy a Nanaimo bar! For the uninitiated, those are a plate of french fries with cheese curds and gravy, a bloody Mary made with clamato juice, and a bar that contains a wafer, butter icing and chocolate ganache. It's time to test your knowledge of Canadian slang! 

If a Canadian wears their runners, what type of shoe are they wearing?

Runners have many names. Depending on where you are from, you may call them sneakers, tennis shoes, walkers or walking shoes.


When someone says they are a Newfie, where are they from?

Newfie is a shortening of Newfoundlander. It can be considered offensive or a term of endearment.


If a Canadian says they are going to the store for a two-four, what are they picking up?

Victoria Day, which is Queen Victoria's birthday, is on May 24. In Canada, this is sometimes called May two-four, which is both a reference to her birthday at the large amount of beer consumed.


Why would you call someone a Canuck?

The word Canuck first appeared in 1835. In 1869, a political cartoon featuring a man named Johnny Canuck appeared. He was reinvented as a World War II action hero in the 1940s.


Why should you look out for a Mountie?

A Mountie is an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It first appeared in 1914. While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police rode horses at the time, horses are no longer used regularly.


What is a Canadian eating if they are having Kraft Dinner?

Kraft Dinner is so popular in Canada that it is often referred to only by its initials, K.K. The dish received a shout out in the song "If I Had $1000000" by the Barenaked Ladies.


What unit of measure is a klick?

"Klick" is shortened form of kilometers. Someone may say something is "3 klicks." A klick is about five-eighths of a mile.


Why would a Canadian say "eh?"

"Eh" was first recorded in the mid-16th century. Merriam-Webster believes it comes from the Middle English "ey."


What kind of pants are joggers?

In Canada, sweatpants are called joggers. In Australia, they may be called trackpants, tracky daks or trackies.


The milk that Canadians call "homo milk" is better known as what?

In Canada, whole milk is unhomogenized. On Canadian milk labels, it is common to see homogenized milk shortened to homo milk. Homogenized milk has the fat molecules broken down so it won't separate.


If you put your leftover food in the garburator, where is it going?

"Garburator" entered Canadian English in 1948. It refers to the electric device in a kitchen sink that shreds food waste.


If you left your car in a parkade, where is it?

Parkade dates from the 1940s. It is a combination of "park" and "arcade."


When it gets cold out, a Canadian might put on a tuque, which is what?

Tuque originated as a French Canadian word. CBC reports that the word most likely comes from the Old Spanish word for a type of headdress, which was called a toca.


If you ask for a double-double, what will you get in your coffee?

Double-double is strongly associated with the donut chain Tim Hortons. Another Tim Hortons specialty is Timbits, which are donut holes.


What type of person is a rink rat?

The term rink rat was first recorded in the mid-1900s. It is specifically a young person who helps out at the hockey rink in return for free admission.


If you ask for a freezie on a hot summer day, what will you receive?

Freezies are the type of ice pop that comes in a thin plastic sleeve. You may know them as freeze pops.


Why would you congratulate a woman on her stagette?

The different English-speaking nations all have their own word for the party held for a woman before her wedding. In Canada, staggette is used. However, the United States uses bachelorette party and the United Kingdom uses hen do.


What are you wearing if someone comments on your bunny hug?

While a Canadian will know what you mean, calling a hoodie a "bunny hug" is mostly done in Saskatchewan. The bunny hug was also a dance


If you ask for a pencil crayon, what kind of coloring tool will you receive?

Pencil crayon may derive from the English "colored pencil" and the French "crayon de couleur." In the United Kingdom, they are called "colouring pencils."


What type of outdoor chair is a Muskoka chair?

Muskoka is a region in Central Ontario. The original Muskoka or Adirondack chair was created by Thomas Lee.


Why might Canadians disapprove of a keener?

Keener comes from the word keen, which means eager. The word specifically refers to someone who is overly enthusiastic and tries to hard to please others.


While America Runs on Dunkin', Canada runs to Timmies, which is formally known as what?

In 1964, Tim Horton opened the first Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ontario. The company branched out to the United States in 1985 with its first location in Amherst, New York.


If an event is describe as a gong-show, what was it?

A "gong show" or "gonger" describes an even that went out of control. The term comes from the 1970s show called "The Gong Show," which featured people doing outrageous stunts. If the judges didn't like it, they would gong the participants.


When two people are chirping each other, what are they doing?

Chirping is used in eastern Canada. The western Canadian equivalent is beaking.


When someone is called a hoser, what are they being called?

The term hoser gained popularity after it was featured on the Canadian sketch show SCTV. In "The Great White North" segments, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas would use the word while in character as Bob and Doug McKenzie.


What are you carrying around if you have a Toonie in your pocket?

The Canadian two-dollar coin gets its nickname from combining two with loonie, which is the name of the Canadian one-dollar coin. On Feb. 19, 1996, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced the Toonie, which it estimates has a life span 20 times greater than its paper equivalent.


When a Canadian says they are on the pogey, what are they referring to?

The word "pogey" may come from slang for poorhouse. It can be used for any kind of relief given to the unemployed. However, it usually refers specifically to unemployment insurance.


If a Canadian is sitting on a chesterfield, what are they sitting on?

In Canada, chesterfield is used to describe any couch. In the United Kingdom, a chesterfield is specifically a buttoned sofa usually made out of leather.


What is a hockey player doing if he dekes out another player?

The ice hockey term is a shortened form of "decoy." In Canadian English, "deke" is also used to describe a quick detour, such as stopping at a convenience store.


You may be loony if you're carrying 100 loonies around because they are only worth what?

The Canadian one-dollar coin is called the loonie because the most common version has Queen Elizabeth II on one side and the common loon, a type of bird, on the other. The steel coin with brass plating was first minted in 1987.


When someone goes to the liquor store for a mickey, what are they purchasing?

In Canada, a mickey is specifically a 375-milliliter bottle of liquor. A liquor bottle that contain 750 milliliters is called a twenty-sixer.


If you get whitener in your coffee, what are you putting in it?

A whitener can apply to any non-dairy creamer. However, it is usually used for the powdered kind.


Which Canadian city do you live in if you are in The Six?

Drake popularized The Six as a nickname for Toronto. On an episode of "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon," Drake said it is both a reference to the area code 416 and the six areas Toronto used to be broken up into. Those areas are Old Toronto, North York, East York, York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.


If you're going out for a rip, what are you doing?

Going for a rip means going for a drive, which can involve a car or a snowmobile. It can also mean going out for a good time with friends.


Someone who is skookum is what?

Skookum comes from Chinook Jargon. In Chinook Jargon, the word can mean powerful or evil spirit.


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