Even though Canadians officially speak English and French, Canadian slang can be considered a third language everyone understands. The specific Canadian slang terms vary from region to region with some slang being used universally across Canada. These are some of the most popular Canadian words and phrases used as slang.
Canadian Slang by Region
Canadian Slang of the Atlantic and Central Provinces
If you’re visiting Eastern or Central Canada, including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, these slang words will be familiar to the locals. Some have a French Canadian influence.
- beaver tail - a dessert made of fried dough, sometimes called an elephant ear
- the Big O or the Big Owe - the Olympic Stadium in Montreal
- the Big Smoke - name for Toronto; has been also used for Vancouver
- Bluenoser - a person living in Nova Scotia
- Bogtrotter - a resident of New Brunswick, also used for residents of the other Atlantic Provinces
- b'y or boy - man, dude, or buddy
- ByTown - name for Ottawa, Ontario
- Caper - a person from Cape Breton Island
- centre of the Universe - a sarcastic term for Toronto, Ontario, because of the inhabitant's attitudes
- Downhomer - a resident of Newfoundland; can refer to someone from any part of Atlantic Canada
- Hog Town or Hogtown - nickname for Toronto
- Hollywood North - nickname for Toronto because of the amount of film production
- Maritimer - residents of the Maritime provinces on the east coast of Canada
- Newfie or Newf - a resident of Newfoundland (this term can sometimes be offensive)
- the Hammer - nickname for Hamilton, Ontario
- the Rock - Newfoundland
- Scivey - (SKY-vee) someone who is untrustworthy or stingy
Slang of the Prairie Provinces
The Canadian Provinces, known as “the Prairies,” in the middle of the country have their own unique slang terms. These are a few examples of slang in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
- bunnyhug - (Saskatchewan) refers to a hooded sweatshirt
- Cow-Town - nickname for Calgary, Alberta
- the Hat - nickname for Medicine Hat, Alberta
- jam buster - a jelly-filled doughnut
- the Peg and Peg City - nickname for Winnipeg, Manitoba
- takitish - slang for "take it easy"
- dainties - sweet treats
- social - a party, often held by an engaged couple
Slang of Western and Northern Canada
The Western and Northern portions of Canada are vast, and there is much variation in the landscape and culture in British Columbia, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon Territory. However, these slang terms are unique to this region.
- back East - any area east of the Rockies
- British California - nickname for British Columbia because of the similarities between BC and California
- bush or the bush - area of hunting, mines and forests.
- bushed - a person who has been in the bush too long; someone uncivilized
- Cariboozer - a person from Cariboo Country in BC
- Coastie - a person from Vancouver or the Lower Mainland; someone with city attitudes and dress
- Ditchland or Ditchmond - Richmond, BC, named because of deep drainage ditches in the past
- elephant ear - a dessert made of fried dough, usually topped with lemon juice and cinnamon sugar, also called beaver tail and whale's tail
- Garden City - official nickname of Richmond, BC
- Gastown - nickname for the old part of Vancouver; named after the steamboat captain "Gassy" Jack Deighton
- Hollywood North - nickname for Vancouver because of the amount of film production
- the Island - Vancouver Island, BC
- Left Coast - British Columbia
- Muni, the Muni - the municipal government
- New West - New Westminster, BC
- PoCo - Port Coquitlam, BC
- PoCoMo - term for the Tri-Cities: Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody
- the Rock - Vancouver Island
- the Royal City - New Westminster, BC
- saltchuck - chuck refers to water; saltchuck usually refers to the straits and other bodies of water between Vancouver and Vancouver Island
- Sasquatch - another name for Bigfoot or Yeti; shortened to Squatch in BC and can refer to someone who is big and unkempt
- skookum - something that is good or big
- Terminal City - Vancouver, BC
- Vancouver special - term for a house with little or no basement, often has part of it rented out as a suite because of high housing costs
What Are Some Canadian Slang Words Used Everywhere?
In addition to regional slang variations, there are some Canadian slang words universally understood throughout the country. Whether you’re visiting Toronto or exploring the Yukon, these colloquial terms are recognized everywhere.
- beauty - thanks; cool; good fortune
- Canuck - Canadian
- deke or deke out - to trick someone or avoid them, a term based on a hockey move
- double-double - a coffee that has double cream and double sugar
- gotch, gitch or gonch - refers to underwear, especially men's
- had the biscuit - dead, spent, broken
- head'r - means to leave
- hose - means to trick, deceive or steal
- hosed - something that is broken
- Jesus Murphy - a widely used expletive
- joggers - jogging pants
- Mountie - Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- mickey - a small container of liquor
- poutine - french fries with gravy and cheese curds
- rink rat - refers to those who work at a hockey rink maintaining the building and the ice rink
- slack - low quality or disappointment
- snowbirds - people who leave during the winter months and stay in the southern states of the U.S.
- Tim's, Timmy's, Timmy Ho's, Timmy Ho-Ho's - Tim Horton's doughnut chain
- two-four - a case of 24 beers
What Do Canadians Call Americans?
Even though Canada and the United States are both part of North America, Canadians still call residents of the United States “Americans.” They don’t really have a slang term for their neighbors to the south. However, older generations sometimes call U.S. residents “Yankees.”
Widely Used and Universally Understood
No matter where you live, slang affects the English language in fascinating ways. Over time, the line between proper English and slang becomes blurred, and many slang words become part of the larger language. That’s true for some of these Canadian words and phrases, which are so widely used that everyone understands them.