31 things Canadians say that Americans don't understand

  • 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 colourful 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.’

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.)

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?”

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

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

YouTube/Dylan Reykdal

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

Stag and stagette parties: Bachelor and bachelorette parties.

‘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.

Universal Pictures

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

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

Two-four: a case of 24 beers.

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.

Dart: A cigarette.

YouTube/Museum of Classic Chicago Television

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

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

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.

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Image

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

Spoon University

Runners: Any kind of athletic footwear.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Chesterfield: A couch or sofa.

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.

Tolikoff Photography/Shutterstock

Housecoat: A bathrobe.

Pencil crayons: Coloured pencils.

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

Centennial College

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

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.

Prairie Proud

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

YouTube/Can Learn English

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

YouTube/Royal Canadian Mint

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

David Ramos/Getty Images

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

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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

Crafts n Favours

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