Tuesday, 5 December 2006


Wiktionary, the lexical companion to Wikipedia, has a useful—well, if you're going to Canada—glossary of Canadian English words. Here is a selection; I suspect some of these are long obsolete, or included with tongue in cheek just to bulk out the list:

allophone: a resident whose first language is one other than English or French. Used only by linguists in other English-speaking countries, this word has come to be used by journalists and broadcasters, and then by the general public, in some parts of Canada.
bachelor: bachelor apartment ("They have a bachelor for rent").
Bunny Hug: Term used in Saskatchewan that is a hooded sweatshirt with or without a zipper that has a pocket in the front. Also refered to as a Hoodie in most other provinces
Bytown: the original name of Ottawa before its designation as national capital, often still used in the same context as Hogtown for Toronto or Cowtown for Calgary.
Canuck: A slang term for "Canadian" in the U.S. and Canada. It sometimes means "French Canadian" in particular, especially when used in the Northeast of the United States and in Canada. Adopted as the name of the National Hockey League team in Vancouver. Sometimes jokingly pronounced can-OOK (not used this way for the hockey team, aka "the Nucks").
chesterfield: a sofa or couch. Used somewhat in Northern California; obsolete in Britain (where it originated). Sometimes (as in classic furnishing terminology) refers to a sofa whose arms are the same height as the back, but more usually to any couch or sofa. The more international terms sofa and couch are also used; among younger generations in the western and central regions, chesterfield is largely in decline.
concession road: in southern Ontario and southern Quebec, one of a set of roads laid out by the colonial government as part of the distribution of land in standard lot sizes. The roads were laid out in squares as nearly as possible equal to 1,000 acres (4 km²). Many of the concession roads were known as sidelines, and in Ontario many roads are still called lines.
Cowtown: Calgary Alberta, also called C-Town and Calgon.
Deadmonton Another name for Edmonton Alta. Also known as E-Ville, Edmonchuck or Oil Town.
deke: A word derived from decoy and used to decribe a fake or feint intended to deceive a defensive player, often drawing that player out of position, usually in hockey, as in "I deked him out and scored."
double-double: a cup of coffee from Tim Horton's with two creams and two sugars
eaves troughs: (also Northern & Western U.S.): grooves or channels that attach to the underside of the roof of a house to collect rainwater. Known to most Americans and to Britons as gutters.
eh: a spoken interjection to ascertain the comprehension, continued interest, agreement, etc., of the person or persons addressed ("That was a good game last night, eh?"). May also be used instead of "huh?" or "what?" meaning "please repeat or say again." Frequently mis-represented by Americans as A, or hey. May have its origins from the French hein, which is pronounced in a very similar fashion.
Family Compact: a group of influential families who exercised substantial political control of Ontario during part of the 1800s. The Quebec equivalent was the Chateau Clique.
garburator: a garbage disposal unit located beneath the drain of a kitchen sink.
homo milk: homogenized milk, particularly with a fat content greater than 2%, usually 3.25%. Referred to in the U.S. as whole milk.
hydro: (except Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Maritimes) commonly as a synonym for electrical service. Many Canadian provincial electric companies generate power from hydroelectricity, and incorporate the term "Hydro" in their names: Toronto Hydro, Hydro Ottawa, etc.
joe job: a low-class, low-paying job. Not to be confused with the computer term joe job.
Kokanee: British Columbian name for a species of land-locked salmon (accent on first syllable). Also the name of a popular beer made in the Kootenay district, also known as "Blue Cocaine."
Kraft Dinner: Kraft macaroni and cheese. Sometimes called "Krap Dinner" or "KD".
loonie: Canadian one dollar coin. Derived from the use of the loon on the reverse.
lumber jacket: A thick flannel jackeolett either red and black or green and black favoured by blue collar workers and heavy metal/grunge fans. This apparel is more commonly referred to as a mackinac (pron mackinaw). In parts of British Columbia, it is referred to as a doeskin.
Nanaimo bar: a confection named for the town of Nanaimo, British Columbia and made of egg custard with a Graham-cracker-based bottom and a thin layer of chocolate on top; however, this term is now common in the United States and elsewhere, thanks to the efforts of Starbucks in popularizing them.
Newfie, Newf: A colloquial, often derisive term used to describe one who is from Newfoundland and Labrador. Historically used with light humour in "Newfie Jokes", similar to "Dumb Blonde Jokes". Use of the word is now considered to be offensive and in very bad taste.
parkade: a parking garage, especially in the West.
pencil crayon: coloured pencil.
quiggly hole and quiggly town: remains of First Nations underground houses in the Interior of British Columbia
runners: running shoes, sneakers, especially in Central Canada. Also used somewhat in Australian English.
Timbits: a brand name of donut (doughnut) holes made by Tim Hortons that has become a generic term
toonie: Canadian two dollar coin. Modelled after loonie (q.v.). Also spelled tooney, twooney, twoonie, twonie, or twoney
tuque: a knitted winter hat, often with a pompon on the crown. Sometimes misspelled "toque", which is in fact an unrelated type of hat.
washroom: the general term for what is normally named public toilet or lavatory in Britain. In the U.S. (where it originated) mostly replaced by restroom in the 20th century. The word bathroom is also used; the term toilet is generally considered somewhat indelicate in Canada and is avoided.

Canadian French words are for another day.


Gumby said...

Flaming Nora!

Strange to see Canada's bastard slang has a provenance, embarrassing to realise that I am quite familiar with most of the words.
Again, your stunning lexicon has left me speechless, silent on a peak in Arkansas.

A Canuck

Pennyroyal said...

Wow! It's so funny that terms/phrases like "bachelor and double-double" which are heard on a daily basis here, can make no sense in other English-speaking countries!

BTW, I find your blog fascinating: Such a medley of so many interesting topics.

I'll be visiting here more often.

Pouneh (Pennyroyal)

Tony said...

This is very disappointing.

The first real bluestocking to read Other Men's Flowers and what does she choose to comment on? Canadianisms!

From you I had expected a contribution of real intellectual weight, to contrast with the frivolous wittering of my posts and the weakly facetious comments which they usually evoke. Something along the lines of a brief dissertation on Some Aspects of Sufism, perhaps, or possibly a pithy re-evaluation of Sturm und Drang.

I count on you to raise the tone of my blog with any future comments.

Julius said...

Tony, old friend, don't you realise that this lady has accurately assessed the intellectual level of your blog and realised that its writer and its habitual readers would be mystified and depressed to encounter anything of real substance in it?

Her comment hit exactly the right note of undemanding levity.