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Whether you want to spend a weekend in Canada or are moving there long term, there are some terms you need to learn before heading off. Even though the main language is English, our friendly neighbors to the north have quite a few differences in terms of how they speak, as well as spelling differences. So before your trip, check out the most important Canadian slang and ensure you speak like a local. Oh, and remember to read up on the Tourist Canada Visa Application before you make plans!
Think you speak Canadian English, eh? The first thing you need to know while in Canada is “eh” (pronounced like the letter a). The word is used like “what?” at the end of a sentence you don’t understand, or “right?” when you want to confirm something. Not hard to follow, eh?
2. Double Double
Coffee fans, remember this one when you stop into Tim Hortons to start your day. The popular Canadian coffee chain’s double double refers to a coffee with two creams and two sugars, hence double-double. If you can’t drink your coffee without milk and sugar, don’t forget to stop for your double double.
3. Two four
An important one to know if you love to get together with some friends for a drink. “Two four” refers to a case of 24 beers, which you can pick up at your local grocery store. The two-four is especially popular around Victoria Day weekend, the 24th of May. If you’re 19 or over, or 18 or over in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, you can’t start the night out without a two-four — the perfect addition to any camping trip, check out the Best Camping in Canada.
Loonie, or toonie, is common slang for the Canadian one dollar coin, for its image of a loonie bird. Based on the “loonie” the two dollar coin is affectionately called a “toonie”. If you’re on a budget while traveling to Canada, be sure to count every loonie to make the most out of your trip.
Goodbye Starbucks, Hello Timmies. Tim Hortons is like the Canadian Starbucks, but don’t say that to a Canadian. The popular coffee brand offers coffee drinks, hot chocolates, and pastries and other snacks. But be sure not to call it Tim Hortons, unless you want to sound out of place. Remember, it’s “Timmies”.
This is easy for our Midwesterner friends to remember, but if you’re not from the Midwest of the United States, you may know this popular drink as ‘soda’, or even simply ‘coke’. “Pop”, of course, refers to soda-type drinks. Remember this when you head into the shop for lunch — pop, not soda.
7. What you sayin’
This one isn’t asking to clarify what you said earlier. “What you sayin” is a common phrase that means something like ‘what’s up’? Or ‘what are you up to’? So, when you ask your new Canadian friends what their plans are, it’s “what you sayin?”.
“Keener” is a common Canadian slang word that refers to someone who is overly keen or overly excited about something. Imagine it as something like an overachiever in school, or a brown noser at work.
We’re not talking about the popular cartoon mouse. A “mickey” in Canada is a 375 ml, or 12.5-ounce bottle of alcohol. The flask-shaped bottle is small and skinny, making it easily portable for whatever event you’re attending. Before the party starts, be sure to grab a mickey of whatever you’re drinking. For a bigger event, be sure to buy a Texas mickey, a larger bottle of alcohol of 3 liters, or 100 ounces.
“Gonger”, or “Gong Show”, refers to a party or event that has gotten out of hand or crazy. When the situation gets so ridiculous that you just can’t help but laugh, then it’s definitely a gong show.
Pronounced “took”, a toque is an important accessory to have in the harsh Canadian winters. A “toque” is a hat or beanie, specifically one that folds at the end, that you’ll see nearly everyone donning in the winter months, which, in Canada, can run from around October to March.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a “timbit”. The term is common slang for a donut hole from Tim Hortons, or really, anywhere in the country. The name comes from, of course, Tim Hortons, but it’s become so widely used that now it refers to any of the little sweet treats. So next time you go in for your coffee at Timmies, be sure to order a timbit with your double double.
13. Nanaimo Bar
This one isn’t so much slang as just something you can’t forget. Nanaimo bars are non-bake chocolate treats that come from the Nanaimo area of British Columbia, but have become popular nationwide.
14. Champagne Birthday
If this doesn’t already sound fun, just keep reading. In the US, these are sometimes called golden birthdays, while our fun northern friends in Canada call them “champagne birthdays”. Your champagne birthday is when you turn the age of the date of your birthday. For example, turning 25 on the 25th of July is your champagne birthday.
This one is important to remember, especially if you’re a messy eater. While we call them napkins, our Canadian friends call them “serviettes”. Next time you head out to eat, if they look at you funny for asking for a napkin, just ask for a serviette.