How Well Do You Really Know Canadian Slang?

Deborah Beckwin

Image: Juanmonino/E+/GettyImages

About This Quiz

Oh, Canada -- it's a country that Americans love to make fun of (e.g., America's backyard). But the Great White North, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017, thinks of itself as America, but better. Nothing like some friendly competition in the North America continent, eh? 

But what does it mean to be Canadian? You may not know that most Canadians live in urban and suburban places because most of the land is coniferous forest, tundra and in a polar climate.

Even many Canadians will tell you that some of the Canadian stereotypes are true and you'll see this in their slang. They love their beer. They really are painfully polite. Poutine is a national treasure. Hockey is life. 

But some stereotypes aren't true, such as it's winter all the time and that you'll see the Canadian Mounties riding along everywhere. Even how they say the words "about" and "out," non-Canadians (especially Americans) get this wrong a lot. It's not aboot, it's aboat. 

So are you ready to take this quiz on Canadian slang? Well, give'r and let's go! Good luck!

Your Canadian coworker walks up to your desk and asks, "What you sayin'?" What did they ask you?

"What you sayin'?" is a way to ask what someone is doing. It's similar to saying, "What's up?" or "What's going on?"

This is quintessentially Canadian: what's "Timmies" a nickname for?

Canada's national pride and joy of coffeeshops is Tim Horton's. Of course there are other national chains, but Tim Horton's is the one that's most associated with Canada.

At Timmie's, if you're ordering a "double double," what are you getting?

At Tim Horton's, there's the usual way you'd order your coffee, and it's the double-double -- regular coffee, two creams, two sugars. And they have an annual contest of rolling up the rim of your coffee cup to win free coffee.

You have your double-double from Timmies, so you've got to get some "Timbits" -- so what are you ordering?

Timbits are doughnut holes from Tim Horton's. They're similar to Dunkin Donuts Munchkins.

Canadians have another name for whole milk. Do you know what it is?

This may be an unusual name outside of Canada, but homo is short of homogenized. The milk fat is usually at 3.25 percent. And you may be surprised to know that "homo milk" is printed on cartons.

Americans call this Canadian bacon, but what do Canadians call it?

Canadian bacon is technically a cured, smoked and cooked kind of pork, but back bacon in Canada doesn't have to be smoked or cured. It's just a cut of pork loin. Canadians also eat "regular" bacon and they are VERY serious about and obsessed with it.

If you're hungry for some "KD," what food are you looking for?

In Canada, what Americans sometimes call "the blue box," it's called Kraft Dinner or KD, which is probably as Canadian as eating poutine. And believe it or not, Canadians eat over 50 percent more of this Kraft Dinner than Americans do. They'll say "KD" when they mean any sort of mac and cheese meal.

In America, there are regional differences on what to call soft drinks. So what do Canadians call soft drinks?

Primarily in Canada, a soft drink is called pop, just like it is in the American Midwest and West. But if you go to Montreal, Quebec, (and other places such as Manitoba) you'll hear "soft drink."

You're about to go get some groceries and you ask your Canadian friend if they need anything. "Yeah," they say, "Could you bring back a two-four?" So what is that?

If you bring a two-four to a Canadian party, you'll be easily accepted. Or, you can come in with a suitcase (which is a 12-pack). Also, it's of note that "May two-four weekend" is the nickname for Victoria Day, which falls on the last Monday before the 25th of May; it's a play on words about drinking a case of beer during a long weekend.

You want your Canadian friend to chip in some money for the two-four, and they say, "Sure, let me find you some loonies and toonies." What kind of money are they giving you?

"Loonies" may sound a bit informal or offensive, but on the Canadian dollar coin, there's a picture of the loon, a bird with a distinctive cooing call. And "toonie" rhymes with loonie (also written as "twonie") By the way, Canadian pennies, although they can still be used, stopped being produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2012.

If you're working on your "Molson muscle", what part of your body are you working?

Canadians love their beer, and Molson is a Canadian beer brand. So "Molson muscle" is a euphemism for one's beer belly.

In Canada, if you hear someone talking about a "mickey," what are they referring to?

In America, a common size of a bottle of liquor is "a fifth" which is 750 mL, or around 25 ounces. But in Canada, it's half of that, a "mickey," 375 mL. It's about the size or amount that you could put in a flask.

If you're going to get some "darts" in Canada, what are you purchasing?

Darts are Canadian slang for cigarettes. But in Vancouver, with marijuana dispensaries, a dart now can mean a joint.

It's Monday afternoon at work and you're struggling to finish a project. Your Canadian co-worker walks by with some coffee for you and says, "Just give'r!" What did they just say?

Whether you're chugging a beer or just trying to get through the day, sometimes you just need to give'r (or give'er). Short for "give her a go," it's a saying of encouragement, (e.g., get it done!).

You can always find at least one of these people at school or at work -- what's a "keener"?

We all have sayings for those who try too hard to impress, the one who is always raising their hands in class first, the obsequious sycophants ones among us. In Canada, this person is called a "keener."

To keep warm in Canada, you'll need this -- what is a toque?

Toque (or tuque) is uniquely a Canadian term for a winter hat -- specifically the woolen kind that you can pull over your ears. Americans would call this a beanie. If it has a pom-pom on the top, then it's definitely Canadian.

Which of these words is NOT a Canadian slang term for underwear?

Call it gitch, gotch or gonch (or ginch) -- it's Canadian slang for underwear -- especially if it's men's underwear. If you want to give someone a wedgie, then you do a "gonch-launch" or a "gotch-pull."

You and your Canadian friend are going out to run errands, and they tell you, "Wait, let me put my runners on first" -- what are they putting on?

Runners don't just mean running shoes. In Canada, they mean any kind of athletic shoes -- similar to sneakers in the U.S.

In the car, you're driving and your Canadian friend is giving you directions. "Hang a Roger at the stop sign, and then hang a Larry at the next light." What directions were you given?

In Canada, the way to give directions is with men's names. There's also hang a Louie, hang a Ralph. If you want to go straight, you say "Hang a Sam" and if you want to make a u-turn, you say "Hang a Ulysses." But this language has been used in America as well -- but currently, it's just with directions instead of names.

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

Going out for a rip can mean a few things in Canada. It could mean a drive -- like off-roading or taking a ride on a snowmobile. But it can also mean going out to get drunk. It can also mean just going out with friends to have a good time.

You ask for directions from a Canadian and they say, "Oh, it's just three klicks that way, you can't miss it." What measurement are they using?

Interestingly, Canadians are sometimes caught in between the English and metric system of measurements, but klicks refers to the metric system. Klicks is also a military term for kilometers.

You and your Canadian friend are looking at bars to go to and they point to one saying, "That place is always a gongshow!"

This is a hockey term that's become more commonplace. When something or someone is a gong show (also known as a gonger), then it's just madness which may or may not involve alcohol. But it could be used positively, too--crazy good or crazy bad, it all depends.

You're watching hockey and see two hockey fans start fighting in the stands. What would your Canadian friend call this?

The word "kerfuffle" is Scottish in origin, and after French-Canadians, Scottish-Canadians are the largest group of Canadians with European ancestry. But kerfuffle made its first appearance in Canadian English. Kerfuffle is usually a minor argument or scuffle -- nothing major.

Those two hockey fans who were fighting were separated by their friends, but your Canadian says, "They keep chirping at each other." What are the fans doing?

You can see this in the hockey rink or with gamers, but chirping is raining verbal abuse on someone else. Another term for this is "beaking."

Your Canadian friend sees you in the kitchen while you're making some poutine for them, and they say, "I'll be out on the chesterfield if you need any help." Where will your friend be?

Admittedly, "chesterfield" is probably an older Canadian slang word -- maybe you'll hear older parents or grandparents say it. So the word is dying out as younger Canadians say "couch" now. Chesterfield has its origins from Britain, where it was a type of leather couch.

This American outdoor chair is called an Adirondack chair. What are they called in Canada?

Some would say that there are are some differences between the Adirondack and Muskoka chairs, and other would say it's just a name difference. Both chairs are styled similarly. But if you're heading to your cottage or cabin for May two-four weekend, you'll be splitting a two-four with your family and friends while sitting in Muskoka chairs.

What do Canadians call the bathroom?

Specifically, "washroom" is a euphemism for a public toilet. Washroom was originally an American word, but now Americans use "restroom" more often.

What's the common name for the electrical service or electricity in Canada?

Canada utilizes hydroelectricity for its citizens, and many of the electrical companies have "hydro" in their names. So a hydrofield contains a line of transmission towers, and a hydroline or hydropole transmission lines or poles. If a Canadian is talking about their electric bill, they'll call it the hydro bill.

There are some nicknames Canadian cities. So what's Winnipeg, Manitoba's nickname?

Winnipeg, Manitoba goes by The Peg or Peg City. It's Manitoba's largest city and the province's capital. Another nickname Winnipeg has due to its cold winter temperatures is "Winterpeg."

If you know the rapper Drake, then you know the city that has the nickname "The 6."

Toronto has a lot of nicknames (T Dot, Big Smoke, Hogtown), but when Drake's "Views from the 6" dropped in 2014, "The 6" (also written as The Six or The 6ix) became popular. It's not entirely clear what it means but some theories include that it's from the area codes 416 and 647. It could also be referring to Toronto's six boroughs, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto and York, became one city in 1998.

Which Canadian city is called "Cowtown"?

Calgary, Alberta is Canada's third largest city and Alberta's largest city. "Cowtown" refers to the city's history of being leaders in cattle and meatpacking industries. Although Calgary has other commerce focuses now, the Calgary Stampede, a rodeo and festival still happens every year since its start over a century ago, and cowboy culture still a part of Calgary's culture and identity.

We can't have a quiz on Canadian slang without some hockey terms. If a player fakes another out (such as the goalie), what is that called?

"Deke" (pronounced "deek") is short for decoy, and it's Canadian in origin. To deke is to pretend to be moving in one direction and then go in another. You can also use deke outside of the context of hockey, e.g., if you're being evasive or you're trying to avoid someone, you'd deke out.

No hockey player likes the person who hangs out near the goal to score some easy goals without playing any defense. What is that person called?

A goal suck is a forward who does not want to get involved in defensive play and always hangs back away from it. And based on the word, it's not a nice thing to be called.

If someone is "on pogey," then what is that person on?

"On pogey" is another way of saying you're "on the dole." The origins seem to be from older English and Scottish words which mean "the poorhouse" or "the workhouse". It can also mean someone who is on welfare benefits.

If you're Canadian, it's OK to be a Canuck, but it's not OK to be this slang term.

Associated with being uncultured and boorish, the term "hoser" became popular from the TV show, "The Great White North" by the characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. But the etymology has some origin stories including when hockey was played outdoors and without Zamboni machines, the losing team had to hose the ice to make it smooth again. Being "hosed" also means being drunk, so being a hoser would mean being a drunk.

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