15 Words Canadians Use You Might Not Be Familiar With

Canadian English has lots in common with American English, but there are a few words Canadians use that might throw you off.
Words Canadians use represented by an overhead shot of Niagara Falls

Much ink has been spilled over the English language divide between the United States and the United Kingdom. So much so that you might forget that there are way more than two varieties of the language. And yet, Canada — another huge country with English as its primary language (mostly) — is mainly recognized for a different pronunciation of “about” and the use of “eh.” But if you look at the unique words Canadians use, you’ll find a rich vocabulary you might not be too familiar with.

We should note at the beginning that there isn’t any single Canadian English dialect. In the same way the United States has southern accents, midwestern accents and so on, Canada too has a diversity of voices. So here’s a sampling of some words that Canadians use (but you can’t assume every person uses it).

Words Canadians Use

all-dressed chips — if Canada is known for one kind of potato chip, it’s probably the ketchup-flavored ones. You should also know about all-dressed chips, however, named as such because they have all the dressings in one: vinegar, salt, barbecue, sour cream, onion and, yes, ketchup.

Caesar — this is the name of a cocktail made with vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and clamato juice (clam broth and tomato juice mixed together). Its red color is why it’s named after a Roman ruler who met a bloody end.

eavestrough — feeling down in the gutter? Maybe you’d feel better if you called it by its Canadian name, eavestrough. The name might look unusual, but it’s literally a trough hung from the eaves of a building.

freezies — this flavored ice that comes in a plastic tube goes by many different names around the world. They’re called freeze(r) pops in the United States, ice poles or ice pops in the United Kingdom, icy poles in Australia, ice candies in the Philippines and so on.

fire hall — what you might know as a firehouse or a fire station is called a fire hall in Canada.

garburator — you might better know it as a garbage disposal. This word refers to the device in some kitchen sinks that shreds up food waste.

give ‘er — if you want someone to put all their effort into something, even to the point of reckless endangerment, you might yell “give ‘er” at them.

KD — one of the most uncanny parts of visiting another country is when the brand names are slightly off. What Americans know as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is fondly known as Kraft Dinner in Canada, or KD for short. To make things even more confusing, it’s called Cheesey Pasta over in the United Kingdom.

loonie and toonie — slang for money isn’t hard to come by. A loonie is a term for the one-dollar (Canadian) coin, named as such because it features the common loon. The toonie, as you might guess, is for a two-dollar coin (which has Queen Elizabeth II and a polar bear featured on it).

mickey — this is a word Canadians use that is likely to raise some eyebrows in other countries. While mickey is American slang for a drug used to incapacitate someone, in Canada it’s a term used for a 375 milliliter container of alcohol. Some people also use the term Texas mickey to refer to a three-liter container of alcohol (because everything’s bigger in Texas, of course).

parkade — this might sound like a fun place to be — a portmanteau of park and arcade perhaps? — but a parkade is just a multi-story car park.

peameal bacon — some Americans refer to this kind of cured ham as Canadian bacon, but in Canada it’s called peameal instead. The name comes from the old practice of rolling the meat in yellow peas to make it last longer. Nowadays, cornmeal is used instead, and it is sometimes called cornmeal bacon instead.

pencil crayon — as you might be able to guess, this is just another name for colored pencils. They tend to be sold alongside crayons, so the linguistic mixing isn’t too surprising.

Timmies — New England has Dunkies, the Mid-Atlantic region has Wawa, and Canada has Timmies, more properly called Tim Hortons. A much beloved place to get coffee and breakfast foods, Timmies has become as much a part of the Canadian identity as the maple leaf or Celine Dion.

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