Updated: Mar 31, 2020
English might be one of Canada’s official languages, but the northern country has many different words and phrases that often completely confuse tourists from other English-speaking countries!
Below are some words that could help you the next time you visit “The Great White North”!
Eh? This is probably one of the most well-known Canadian slang words. It usually comes at the end of sentences and has many purposes: it ends a question, it confirms a statement, and it even shows surprise. When in doubt, just say, "Eh?"
Example: Oh, wow, eh? That's a really interesting shirt you're wearing, eh?
Loonies and toonies. Canada uses the Canadian dollar. Canadian dollar coins are called "loonies" (one dollar) and "toonies" (two dollars). These words come from the pictures shown on the coins. The one dollar coin has a local bird called a loon, so "dollar" became "loonie". The two-dollar coin actually shows a polar bear, but because it is worth two dollars, it came to be called a "toonie", for "two loonies".
Example: Hey, Charlie, lend me a toonie, eh? I need to go buy some chips.
Toque. Canada usually has very snowy and cold winters, as it is located very close to the North Pole, so having winter clothes is essential. A "toque" is a winter hat.
Example: Brenda, grab your toque, we have to get to school and it's really cold out today.
Washroom. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a Canadian and an American is to ask them where the restroom is. Americans call it a "bathroom" while Canadians call it a "washroom".
Example: Davie, you left your toque in the washroom again!
Skookum. If you want to tell someone they are impressive, brave, strong, or even attractive, you tell the person they are "skookum". This word is usually used in western Canada and comes from a local indigenous language.
Example: That Chuckie, he's skookum, eh? He rescued my toque from that polar bear!
Try these slang words out during your next conversation with a Canadian!