Monday, September 22, 2014


The other day an American friend sent me a link to an interesting article: 55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently. The writer did a survey to determine whether Americans or people from Commonwealth countries recognized words that are used in Canada. Some words were pretty much purely Canadian, others were recognizable in the Commonwealth but not in the US. Give the article a read, and since I’m Canadian I decided I’d go through the list and see what ones I knew:

[ * means I didn’t realize it was an “only-Canadian” word ]

Familiar with and use it:

Tuque (but I would have spelled it with an ‘ou’)
Runners *
Homo milk (but rarely say it now)
Pencil crayon
Bachelor apartment (but in Qatar I say ‘studio’)
Donair * (but now I say ‘shwarma’)
Icing Sugar *
Robertson screwdriver *
Pablum *
Chip Truck * (What, this is Canadian-only?!? I’d have bet money it was a British term.)
All-Dressed * (they don’t have this in America ?)
Freezies * (they don’t call it this in America ?)
Stagette *
Turfed out
Hydro (very common in BC)
Track pants
Brown bread
Housecoat *
Two-way ticket
Chesterfield (this was common when I was young, I think it’s falling out of use now)

Familiar with but don’t use it (instead I’d say):

Parkade (parking lot)
Eavestroughs * (gutters)
Garburator * (said it when I was younger, now ‘garbage disposal’)
Wicket (booth)
Whitener (creamer)
Fire Hall * (fire station)
Jiffy marker (marker)
Hooped (screwed)
Give’r (although if I said “Give it all you got” it might sound a bit like “Give’r all you got”)
Take off! (definitely an outdated term, like an American saying “Groovy, man”)
Kangaroo jacket (hoodie)
Gotch – I never used it but ginch/gonch I used when I was younger, now I’d say ‘underwear’
Skookum (said it occasionally when I was younger, now I’d say ‘fine/great/cool’)
Pogey (EI)
Rubber (eraser) – this is totally a British word, no one where I lived said ‘rubber’.

Not familiar with it:

ABM (I knew 'bank machine' or 'ATM')
Texas Mickey
Fill your boots (I knew the phrase but with a very different meaning, kind of like “filled my underwear”)
Bugger the dog (sounds British to me)

I was kind of surprised how many words seem to be primarily Canadian. I would have added one to the list -- pop (known by other English speakers as 'soda' or 'fizzy drink'). Some Americans use it but it's not that common, in Canada it's widespread.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Pop" is used regionally in the US, but certainly not universally. I think, however, that most Americans (at least older ones) would recognize it. I think it was a shortened version of "Soda Pop". In NYC it was never used, but it was in upstate NY. As for the entire list, I was surprised by how many I had never heard.