Across the Great White North there are a number of unique phrases and words specific to Canadians and our everyday lives. For many second-language speakers, who are trying to fit in with the locals, using casual English is often a more difficult task than simply adding some common idioms or phrasal verbs that are recognized internationally. Slang, especially city-specific language, can be an absolute headache for newcomers, but that doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless endeavor. Even though Canada is the second largest country in the world, and much of our jargon is region-specific, there are still certain phrases that you will hear from Vancouver Island all the way through the prairies to the Maritimes. Here are 7 Canadian slang expressions.
Tim’s or Timmy’s
Tim Horton’s might be a worldwide coffee chain, but it remains an extremely popular choice in its homeland. “Tim’s” or “Timmy’s”, as locals call it, is often open 24/7 making it an appealing place to warm up with a cup of coffee and a cruller for people from all walks of life.
What’s the most popular coffee order at Tim’s? Two cream and two sugar or “double-double.” Here’s an example of how Canadians use it:
Cashier: Welcome to Tim Horton’s, what can I get for you this morning?
Canadian customer: Large double-double, please.
It’s that simple.
The most well-known and well-used Canadian slang word is without a doubt “eh.” This word has stood the test of time as a multipurpose piece of vocabulary that you’ll hear in every city and province. Here are just a few ways to use it.
A: That was a great concert, eh?
B: Oh yeah, fantastic.
A: These are delicious muffins, Mike. Thanks so much.
B: Yeah, these are great, eh.
A: What did was that, eh? I can’t understand you.
Stay tuned as we will have a full article on “Eh” and its many uses coming out soon.
This word is typically used to refer to an argument or disagreement. It can mean either a verbal conflict or even a mildly physical altercation too. Let’s say you witness two people arguing loudly on the street, and the person next to you asks what is happening.
Person: What are those people doing?
You: I’m not sure, but it looks like some sort of kerfuffle.
Person: A kerfuffle, eh?
You: I’d say so.
Loonie and Toonie
Here’s some logical and not-so-logical slang. The animal on the one dollar coin is a loon, so it’s no surprise that this was applied to its nickname, loonie. When the Canadian government introduced a two-dollar coin years after the loonie had been in circulation, locals seemed content tweaking the one-dollar moniker for the two-dollar coin and “toonie” quickly became its common name.
Winter is a reality in Canada, so naturally every Canadian is equipped with the appropriate seasonal attire including a proper winter coat, gloves, and a winter cap or “toque.” Known in most of the world as a beanie, this is an absolute must no matter where you live in the country. Be sure to fit in with the locals by sporting one in the winter months and under no circumstances should you refer to it as anything other than its Canadian name, toque.
So now that you have a bit of Canadian slang, grab a toonie, visit a Tim’s for a double-double, and don’t forget your toque, eh!
If you have any feedback or questions about these 7 Canadian slang expressions or studying English in Canada, contact us now. We’re always happy to help.
By Bryan Candy