15 Canadian Words Every American Should Know
Either because you're planning a trip to the Great White North, or you just want to be prepared in case you ever run into Keanu Reeves and don't want to look like an idiot, it's not a bad idea to know some Canadian words.
Obviously, Canadians speak a wide variety of languages, but there are some specifically idiosyncratic Canadianisms we'd like you to be aware of, such as …
"All-Dressed" Doesn't Mean a Prudish Group, it's the World's Tastiest Potato Chip
Canada is home to several unique potato chip flavors you can't get in the states, like Ketchup-flavored chips, Dill Pickle-flavored chips, and even poutine-flavored chips for people who love poutine and hate the functionality of their own heart. But most importantly, there are All-Dressed chips. Supposedly a "mix of ketchup, barbecue, sour cream and onion, and salt and vinegar flavors," they were first created in Quebec in 1978 and remain truly the best thing to come out of Quebec since William Shatner.
"Keener" is Basically a Nicer Way of Saying "Butt-Kisser"
In Canada, a "keener" is an over-enthusiastic kiss-ass – like the annoying kid in seventh-grade science class who tries to impress the teacher by asking for extra homework is a keener. Whereas in the U.S., a "Keener" is typically a co-star of Being John Malkovich.
“Toque” Basically Means “Beanie”
In the U.S., there are Beanies; in Canada, you have "Toques" -- pronounced like the family of Hobbits. The toque is an important part of daily life, whether you're trying to keep warm in winter or awkwardly struggling to look hip in the summer. The word "toque" reportedly dates back to 16th-century France, while the word "Beanie" sounds like a derogatory term for someone who looks like Rowan Atkinson. But hey, it's your call America.
A “Loonie” is Perfectly Sane Legal Tender
Canadian money is pretty much just like American money, only it comes in different colors and often features an image of the Queen silently judging you. The other big difference is the lack of a one-dollar bill. Instead, there is a one-dollar coin, nicknamed the "Loonie," because it features an image of a loon on one side.
After the Loonie was introduced in the '80s, a two-dollar coin eventually followed in 1996. Despite the fact that it has a picture of a Polar Bear on it, everyone just decided to call it a "Toonie" for consistency's sake.
“Clicks” Means Kilometers
If you hear someone measuring a trip using "clicks," you might surmise that Canadians calculate distance using DVDs of Adam Sandler's 2006 comedy -- but that's not actually the case. A "click" or "klick" (it's rarely written down) is just short for kilometers, which is what Canadians use instead of miles, thanks to the country's pseudo-metric system.
A “Snowbird” is Less Fun Than it Sounds
"Snowbird" is a song popularized by Canadian music legend Anne Murray -- but more commonly it's used, not to identify wintery fowl, but to describe the senior citizens who head to Southern U.S. states such as Florida during the colder months, like birds if birds were routinely getting hammered while doing karaoke at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.
Public Bathrooms are Called “Washrooms” For Some Reason
Canadians are prone to calling public bathrooms "washrooms," presumably to cover up the deep shame that our bodies are super-gross and simply require washing, not whatever foul business necessitates a toilet.
Z is Pronounced “Zed” Not “Zee”
At the expense of the big finale of the alphabet song, the letter Z is pronounced "Zed" in Canada.
Actually, pretty much all of the English-speaking world except the U.S. pronounce it this way, a holdover from the French pronunciation of the Greek letter "Zeta."
Why do Americans say "Zee?" No one knows for sure, but it was probably because "Zee" rhymes with so many other letters, and who wants a letter that doesn't rhyme with anything?
A “Timbit” is Just a Donut Hole
While Dunkin' inexplicably named their donut hole product after the diminutive denizens of an old-timey fictional fantasyland, in Canada, they're mostly known as "Timbits." At least that's what they're sold as at Tim Hortons, the country's popular purveyor of pastries and a hot black liquid allegedly being sold as coffee. The store was named after a real-life hockey player, so it's kind of weird to sell the "bits" of a long-dead athlete, but people seem to enjoy them. And speaking of Tim Hortons …
A "Double-Double" is Coffee With Two Creams and Two Sugars
In the U.S., you might know it as a basketball term or a precarious sexual position (we're guessing), but it means a coffee with two creams and two sugars for Canadians. The phrase has since become a part of the cultural lexicon and was even included in the Canadian-Oxford Dictionary. Still, it all began with Tim Hortons -- presumably, because you need a lot of cream and sugar to dilute the taste of their so-called "coffee."
“Caramilk” is a Delicious Chocolate Bar
The U.S. has a lot of candy you can't get in Canada – but Canada at least has Caramilk, the chocolate bar with "liquid gold caramel flowing out of the smooth chocolate pockets." Caramilk comes from just one factory in Toronto; thankfully, it's owned by a giant corporation, not some unpredictable eccentric with a penchant for endangering children. The advertising around the bar usually focuses on the "Caramilk Secret" of how they get the caramel into the chocolate pockets. Judging from some of the '80s commercials, this secret was apparently guarded by Satan himself.
“Parkade” is Just a Parking Garage
The word "parkade" refers to a "multi-level parking garage" and appears to date back to Edmonton, Alberta in the 1950s. It's a pleasant word we should frankly all adopt.
“Pop” Means “Soda”
If you hear a Canadian ask for a "pop," they're not necessarily asking someone to hand over their elderly father. Most likely, they want a soda. Others use the term "soft drink." Generally, though, we all just use the brand name of the drink in question because we're all mere pawns bowing to the whims of our corporate overlords.
A “Mickey” is Booze, Not a Theme Park Mascot
The term "mickey" is used in Canada to refer to a "375-ml bottle of hard liquor." Why? No one knows for sure. Some have speculated that it was named after Mickey Mouse due to its smaller size – but its earliest citation "predates" Disney's famous creation. Somehow, the nation of Canada hasn't been sued into changing it. And speaking of booze …
A "Two-Four" Means You're About to Get Drunk on Mediocre Beer
A case of twenty-four bottles of beer is often referred to as a "two-four" – and just think of all the extra time you'll have to get drunk thanks to the valuable seconds you saved by omitting that extra syllable. This term has also extended into Canadians' slang term for the Victoria Day holiday weekend, which falls around May 24th, Queen Victoria's birthday. Hence it is now the "May Two-Four Weekend." Which, in many ways, is a better label for a holiday that is typically spent, not reflecting on the majesty of the British monarchy but rather getting hammered at somebody's cottage.
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