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25 must-know, super helpful Canadian slangs for international students

Canadian slang
Canadian slang has some real gems. Source: Chris Roussakis/AFP

Imagine you’re in a supermarket in Toronto, you ask for directions to “skimmed milk” and the shop attendant says “you mean ‘homo milk?'” This, my friend, is no homophobic slur, merely a reference to homogenised milk, which has had the fat globules in them broken down from forming that creamy layer on top.

You would think this was a mere one-off, and that Canadians speak the same English as everyone else in the world. So, after that enlightening trip to the supermarket (and a deep dive into the different kinds of milk processes), you step onto Yonge Street and ask someone for directions. They then tell you “just hang a Larry then hang a Roger!” How would you answer?

Canadian slang can baffle the uninitiated — once you know the lingo, however, everything makes sense. To get started, check out our list of must-know totally helpful Canadian slang words and phrases below:

Canadian slang 101: 10 words you need to know

Eh?: We all know this one. A classic Canadian term that’s used in daily conversations to end a question, say hello from a distance, show surprise, or get someone to answer. 

Toque: A winter hat that’s basically a beanie or ski hat but this Canadian slang originates from the French word “cap.”

Poutine: More a type of food rather than slang but it’s as Canadian as it gets. Cheese curds and French fries are blanketed with cozy, unctuous brown gravy. This dish comes from Quebec in Canada. 

Pop: Soda. 

Washroom: What the rest of the world may call a loo, toilet or restroom, Canadians call it “washroom.”

Mickey: If you have a mickey, it means you have a flask-sized bottle of rum or whiskey (usually Canadian rye whiskey). 

Timmies: If you live in Canada, this is a word you’ll hear a lot. It refers to the popular fast-food chain, Tim Horton’s. If you ever eat there, make sure you order “Timbits” which are known as doughnut holes. 

Runners: This means sneakers or tennis shoes. 

Parkade: Canadian slang that means a multi-level building where vehicles part in. 

Kerfuffle: Also used in the UK, this means a fuss caused by a disagreement. It’s mainly used in sports games. 

Chesterfield: Sofa or couch. 

Snowbirds: As you know, Canada is a cold country so the snowbirds refer to those who head south during winter to escape it. 

Click: A kilometre. Some spell it “klick.”

Keener: Someone who tries too hard to please others or someone too enthusiastic.

Canadian slang

Give’er! Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Give’er: This Canadian slang means to give it all you’ve got when all else fails and is usually referenced in work, when having drinks, and in sports. 

Beauty: Although you might think this means you’re beautiful, it actually is an expression used to say well done. 

True: As an alternative to “okay,” instead of its dictionary meaning. 

Serviette: Napkins. 

Loonie: One dollar coin.

Toonie: Two dollar coin. 

6ix: Just like Drake rapped, this means the six former cities that make up Toronto. 

Thongs: Not the underwear, but flip-flops. 

Darts: Cigarettes.

Homo milk: Not gay milk. This means milk that has 3.25% fat and is short for “homogenised milk.” 

Hydro: Electricity. 

Canadian slang: Phrases and expressions

Hang a Larry: Take a left while driving. 

Hang a Roger: Take a right when driving. 

Canadian slang

There are no kerfuffles on Canada Day. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

What you sayin’: If someone says this to you, they’re asking what your plans are so don’t get confused. 

That’s jokes: A phrase used when someone says something hilarious. 

Chirping or beaking: Making fun of someone. Chirping is used in Eastern Canada and beaking is used in the Western Canada.

Out for a rip: Head out for a drive. 

Champagne birthday: When you turn the age of the date of your birth. So, if you were born on September 26, your 26th birthday would be your champagne birthday.