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How to Speak Canadian from “Eh” to “Zed”

Written by Laura DaSilva

How’s it going, eh?

If you’re new to Canada, you may be scratching your head over some of the strange words and phrases Canadians use. So we’ve broken some of our Canadianisms down for you alphabetically so they’re easy to remember. Here we go…

A: Eh

Well, it doesn’t start with “A”, but it sounds like it, eh? Basically, “eh” is a word we say at the end of a sentence when we want someone to agree with us. Along the same lines as “Am I right?”

In a sentence: “This Nickelback song is great, eh?”*

B: Butter tarts

These are sweet treats made of butter, sugar, syrup, eggs and and…magic? Goodness in a cup. If you like these, you can go on a Butter Tart Tour in northern Ontario. Seriously, it’s a thing.

C: Canadian tuxedo

Denim on top. Denim on bottom. Looks as good at a wedding as it does going snowmobiling.

D: Double-double

A coffee with two creams and two sugars.

In a sentence: “I’ll have three maple doughnuts and a double-double.”

E: ‘er

As in “Just give ‘er.” It’s a way to tell someone to do what they set out to do really well.

In a sentence: “Don’t be silly bud, just give ‘er.”

F: Frig

A word we made up because we’re too polite to swear.

In a sentence: “Hey frig off Travis, those are my butter tarts.”

G: Great One a.k.a Wayne Gretzky.

This guy is a hockey legend from Brantford, Ontario. He is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. Long story short: he’s really good.

H: Hockey

The stick and puck sport that made Wayne Gretzky the Great One. People play it at the area, on frozen ponds, on roads and in their dreams. Saturday is and forever will be hockey night in Canada.

I: Ice fishing

This is when you go out into the middle of a frozen lake, cut out a hole in the ice, and wait. Finally, a sport that combines the joy of patience and being cold.

J: Justin Trudeau

Our honourable and ridiculously charming Prime Minister. He’s the son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, former honourable and ridiculously charming Prime Minister.

K: Ketchup chips

Potatoes plus ketchup. You do the math.

L: Loonie

The loonie is our one-dollar coin. The bird on the front is the loon. It’s the official provincial bird of Ontario and makes a cool sound you can hear here.

M: May two-four or May Long on the West Coast.

It’s a three-day weekend in May where people head to the cottage, have a bunch of picnics and set off A LOT of fireworks. The holiday is Victoria Day, which started as a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. It’s the unofficial start of summer for a lot of Canucks.

N: Nanaimo Bars

A yummy no-bake desert named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. These nom nom rectangles combine some of the greatest Cs; chocolate, custard and coconut.

O: Ottawa

This is our nation’s capital. Some people think it’s Toronto, but it’s definitely Ottawa. That’s where the parliament buildings and where politicians debate current and future issues.

P: Poutine

Fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Note: Some places try to throw some shredded mozzarella on top and call it poutine, but the real deal is with cheese curds. Trust.

Q: Quebec

French is the sole official language here. It’s the second-most populated province after Ontario. Montreal is the capital (go there for Montreal bagels and Montreal smoked meat.) So. Hungry. Now.

R: Raptors

Shout out to the Toronto Raptors for being Canada’s only basketball team…and more importantly…the only NBA team to have a freakin dinosaur as their mascot. So rad.

S: Serviette

This is just a fancy way we say napkin.

In a sentence: “Can you pass me a serviette? I got poutine all over my shirt.”

T: Toque

It’s a knitted cap you wear on your head. Keeps the ol noggin warm during our harsh winters. Also great for bad hair days.

U: A letter you add to a bunch of words in Canada

You have to add a “U” to a bunch of words to spell them correctly in Canada. (Colour, honour, catalogue, neighbour, cheque, behaviour. Lay off autocorrect. I’m Canadian.

V: Vancouver

The city on the west coast where they speak yoga fluently.

W: Washroom

How we say bathroom, toilet, water closet, whatever you call the place you do your business.

In a sentence: “This washroom is gross.”

X: Xylophone

Some Canadians have these. Uh…yup.

Y: Yellowknife

Not a knife that is yellow. It’s the capital of the Northwest Territories. And it’s freezing cold.

Z: Zed

Not zee. Zed. No, the alphabet song does not rhyme right when you say “zed,” but it is correct in Canada.

*To our knowledge, no one has ever said, “This Nickelback song is great, eh?”



*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.