While Canada may have two official languages, the country boasts a third, rather unofficial, language: Canadian slang. With an influx of tourists (looking at you, Canadian dollar) and new residents (looking at you, America and your somewhat bonkers presidential race), you’ll need a cheat sheet for day-to-day lingo in the Great White North. Here is your Torontonian survival guide; add these to your back pocket, and you’ll fit in like a local. Pretty cool, eh?
Pronounced “ay”. This word is the classic term used in everyday Canadian vernacular. Used to indicate that you don’t understand something, can’t believe something is true or if you want the person to respond. Similar to “huh”, “right?” and “what?” commonly found in U.S. vocabulary.
“We’re gonna go tobogganing today, eh?”
“The Beer Store AND the LCBO was closed today.”
A loonie, the Canadian $1 coin, gets its name from the picture of the Canadian bird, the loon, that appears on one side of the coin. A toonie, the name for the $2 coin, gained a similar nickname to match the sound of the loonie. Spoiler alert: these loonies and toonies aren’t the same as that commonly known American childhood cartoon.
“Yo, I’m short a toonie for the TTC.”
“All I’ve got is a loonie. Should we Uber instead?”
Timmies refers to the much-loved (though, mediocre) fast-food coffee chain, Tim Hortons, which gets its name from a famous Canadian hockey player. If you don’t know or love Timmies, you’re not a true Canadian. And don’t forget the Timbits, or donut holes in layman’s terms, the perfect match with the popular double-double (see below for definition).
“I’m gonna go to Timmies real quick and grab me a box of Timbits.”
This bad boy is a Tim Hortons favorite: regular coffee with two creams and two sugars. And don’t forget to roll up the rim to win (a yearly contest).
“Mmm… I can’t start my day without my morning double-double and jelly filled dutchie.”
The 6ix refers to the cities that make up the Great Toronto Area (or, GTA), but is mostly used when talking about Toronto. Thanks to Drake, “Hogtown,” “Big Smoke,” and “Tdot” are out, while “The 6ix” is in. Also seen as #TheSix and #The6. Represent, Drake.
“Shit’s hot up in The 6ix right now.”
Commonly used to refer to a case of 24 beers. Don’t be surprised when a friend asks you to pick one up on the way over.
“I’m on my way to the Beer Store to pick up a two-four.”
Pronounced: “too-uk” or “tuke”. Derived from the Arabic language, it found its way into the Medieval French lingo in the 15th century. Canada’s French influence is prevalent in this word, which refers to a cap with a small brim, or without a brim entirely (i.e., a beanie). It’s usually worn when it’s cold or in spring … so, pretty much year round.
“Grab your toque. You never know when an ice storm might hit… this is Canada.”
A word used to refer to a flask-sized bottle of liquor. You can find these at the LCBO or… actually, this is the only place you can buy one. Fits perfectly in a purse or in one’s hand.
“Just grab a mickey. We’re keeping it low key tonight.”
Refers to soda, the delicious carbonated beverage that mom rarely let you have.
“Let’s have a couple pops on the chesterfield.”
A slang term for Canadians. You may have heard this before in the world of sports (the Vancouver Canucks), but we Torontonians only know the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Look at those crazy Canucks!”
The word for the letter “Z” in the alphabet. “Zee” is acceptable as well, but if you want to follow the British tradition, go for the zed. You’ll fit right in.
“Her name starts with zed.”
This term is used to refer to kilometres, the unit of length in the metric system equal to 1,000 meters. (Psst, America — one kilometer is approximately 0.6 miles!)
“There’s a moose on the loose! It’s about three klicks away.”
This word is used to refer to someone who tries hard to please others or is overly enthusiastic. Similar to “nerd”, “brown-noser” and “geek”.
“Don’t be such a keener!”
A slang term that means to give it all you got when all else fails. Used when referring to work, drinking, sports and any other activity that requires you to buckle down and get it done.
“I’m feeling under the weather today.”
A commotion or fuss, usually caused by a disagreement or difference in opinion (most commonly found during, or after, sports games).
“There was a kerfuffle when Montreal beat the Leafs.”
The Canadian version of the pre-wedding bachelor/bachelorette party. A night (or weekend) of carousing with your pals of the same gender, before “losing all freedom” at your upcoming nuptials. Often involves poker and booze for guys. Girls pretty much do it like a bachelorette; expect any combination of spa days, drinks, mock bride accessories and so on.
“We got Dan’s stag this weekend. Be sure to pick up a twenty-sixer on your way over.”
The word for running shoes. Can also be used to refer to street shoes as well.
“Bring your runners. We’re not going to take TTC today.”
An expression used to refer to something that was done well, or an exceptionally great person.
“Your mom left a box of Timbits for me. She’s a beauty.”
THESE (see below).
“I’ve got a stack of pencil crayons that will be perfect for that Drake coloring book.”
A word used to refer to Canadians who head south during winter to escape the cold. Destinations always include sandy beaches and tropical waters.
“My parents always get into a kerfuffle over my dad leaving for Florida every winter.”
“He’s a snowbird, eh?”
A slang term for a person from Newfoundland, an eastern province. Also called a Newf or Newfy. Said to be the proudest Canadians, with strong accents, and colloquial expressions distinct to their province.
“He must have been Newfie!”
What you sayin’?
Used when asking what someone is doing. Similar to the phrase, “what are you up to?”
“What you sayin’ tonight?”
“Nothin’ much, just gonna chill on the chesterfield and drink a mickey.”
Used when you want to say something is hilarious or funny.
“I saw a Newfie riding a moose the other day.”
A term used instead of ‘OK.’ (Note: not used to express that something is valid or true.)
“Sorry, I’m going to be late. TTC was delayed.”
A word referring to a couch or sofa. Usually used by the older crowd (hey, grandma).
“Go ahead and eat your elephants ears on the chesterfield. I’ll come sit with you as soon as I take these runners off.”
Refers to a line of people waiting for something, whether it be at the movie theater, the bathroom or a Leafs game. Queue and lineup are used interchangeably.
“The queue at Canada’s Wonderland is massive, eh?”
Another word for the famous Canadian treat, beaver tails, made from fried pastry dough (which are sometimes smothered in toppings like delicious Nutella). Also called elephant ears.
“I’m going to get in this queue for a whale’s tail. I hear they are a beauty.”
A term for a napkin.
“Can you grab me a serviette? I spilt all of my Molson during that kerfuffle.”