31 things Canadians say that Americans don’t understand

Canadians have tons of slang words that would leave most Americans scratching their heads.

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Canadians have tons of slang words that would leave most Americans scratching their heads.
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REUTERS/Mark Blinch

  • Canada and the United States are both English-speaking countries, but they don’t speak exactly alike.
  • Canadians have a long list of slang terms and colorful expressions that set their dialect apart from American English.
  • We compiled a list of 31 Canadian words that would confuse Americans, including words like “keener,” “gonger,” and “Texas mickey.”

The United States and Canada are linked in many ways, from their intertwined history to their 5,500-mile border – the longest in the world.

But the most obvious thing the two countries share is their language.

Yet despite both having English as their primary language, Americans and Canadians don’t speak exactly alike. In fact, Canadian English is full of unique slang words and expressions that would leave most American speakers scratching their heads.

Business Insider’s Portia Crowe compiled a list of words you’ll only hear in Canada. We’ve added some more examples to illustrate that Canadian English comprises a lot more than “eh” and “aboot.”

Read on for 31 Canadian words and expressions that most Americans simply won’t understand.


Keener: A person who is extremely eager or keen. Used interchangeably with terms like ‘brown-noser’ and ‘overachiever.’

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David Becker/Getty Images


Chirping and beaking: Making fun of someone. (Chirping is used in eastern Canada; beaking is used in parts of western Canada.)

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Getty Images


Gotch/gitch/gonch: Tight men’s underpants known elsewhere as briefs or tighty-whities. You might hear, “Do you separate your gitch from your socks when you do laundry?”

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Flickr/LinksmanJD


Mickey: A 375 ml bottle of alcohol. They’re usually shaped like a flask and fit perfectly in a purse.

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Liquor Control Board of Ontario


Texas mickey: A 3-liter (101-ounce) bottle of alcohol.

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YouTube/Dylan Reykdal


Washroom: A polite word for bathroom. The Canadian version of “restroom.”

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Wikimedia Commons


Stag and stagette parties: Bachelor and bachelorette parties.

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“The Hangover”/Warner Bros.


Gong show or gonger: A situation that gets way out of control, often in a funny way. A total disaster. Sometimes used to refer to a party that gets out of hand.

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Universal Pictures


Hang a larry or hang a roger: Turn left or right, respectively.

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YouTube


Homo milk: Homogenized milk, also known as whole milk.

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Flickr/Scazon


Two-four: a case of 24 beers.

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US Department of State


Toque: Pronounced “tuque,” a toque is a winter hat or knit cap, like a beanie. It often refers to the type of beanie that rolls up at the bottom.

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A young Inuit boy wears a Montreal Canadiens toque in the arctic town of Iqaluit.
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Reuters


Dart: A cigarette.

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YouTube/Museum of Classic Chicago Television


Double-double: A coffee from Tim Hortons, Canada’s most popular coffee and donut shop, prepared with two creams and two sugars.

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Flickr/fortinbras


Nanaimo bar: A popular rich dessert that requires no baking. Named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

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Wikipedia Commons


Champagne birthday: The birthday when you turn the age of the date of your birth. So if you were born on the 26th of the month, your 26th birthday would be your champagne birthday. Known in the US as golden birthday.

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Jeff Vinnick/Getty Image


Rockets: The candy that Americans call ‘Smarties.’ In Canada, ‘Smarties’ are candy-coated chocolates made by Nestlé that are similar to M&Ms.

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Spoon University


Runners: Any kind of athletic footwear.

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images


Chesterfield: A couch or sofa.

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REUTERS/Jae C. Hong


Garburator: An electric device underneath of a kitchen sink that breaks up food so it can be washed away. Americans call it a trash or garbage disposal.

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Tolikoff Photography/Shutterstock


Housecoat: A bathrobe.

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Henry Blodget / Business Insider


Pencil crayons: Colored pencils.

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Thomson Reuters


College: This refers specifically to community colleges in Canada. Any institution that awards degrees is referred to as a ‘university.’

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Centennial College


Parkade: A multistory parking lot, otherwise known as a parking garage.

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Wikimedia Commons


Bunnyhug: Used exclusively in Saskatchewan to refer to a hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie. But only in Saskatchewan — the rest of the country finds it as funny as you do.

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Prairie Proud


Zed: The letter Z. Canada’s not alone in this — most of the English-speaking world pronounces it ‘zed’ instead of ‘zee.’

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YouTube/Can Learn English


Loonies and Toonies: An informal name for Canadian one-dollar and two-dollar coins, respectively.

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YouTube/Royal Canadian Mint


‘Out for a rip’: Going out for a drive. Or a snowmobile ride. Or any other kind of excursion, really.

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David Ramos/Getty Images


Eavestrough: A rain gutter. An eave is the part of a roof that extends over the walls of a building.

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Wikimedia Commons


Hydro bill: This is what Canadians call their electricity bill. It comes from ‘hydroelectric power,’ which is more prevalent in Canada than in the US.

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Wikimedia Commons


Serviette: A napkin, especially a cloth one used in formal settings.

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Crafts n Favors