Understanding Canadian Slang and Key Words



Every language has slang or key words you should understand to be a fluent speaker or help make yourself understood when you travel. English and French-Canadian are no exceptions.

In Canada, there are some English sayings that other language speakers may find unusual, and sometimes confusing.

Here are some examples:

  • “Eh,” pronounced “ay” is a very common English word, particularly in Eastern Canada, but may seem odd to speakers of other languages. It is often used at the end of a sentence to mean “Isn’t that right?”
  • “What you saying?” is sometimes used to ask someone “What are you doing,” or “What are you up to.
  • “Chesterfield,” can mean a sofa or couch, particularly among older Canadians
  • “Give ’er,” can mean “work hard”, working hard, or how much work people have to do
  • “Twofer,” often refers to a case of 24 beers as opposed to 12 bottles
  • “Double-double,” when you order coffee with two sugars and two creams; you can also order a “triple-triple”.
  • “True,” doesn’t mean something is true or correct; it is used instead of saying “Ok”
  • “Bum,” refers to someone’s hind end; this word is also common in some European countries for the same part of the anatomy
  • “Clicks,” the slang word for kilometer
  • “Toque,” a wool knit cap
  • “Hollywood North,” a name some Canadians now use to describe Toronto due to its growing movie-making industry

Some words or phrases you might find helpful in French-Canadian:

  • “Char,” refers to a car
  • “Masgasinage,” doesn’t refer to massage, but to shopping
  • “Souper,” doesn’t mean someone who eats soup, but to dinner itself
  • “Serviette,” means napkin; “serviette en papier,” is a paper napkin
  • “Ben La!,” is a common word for “Well there,” but also has other meanings
  • “Cinq-A-Sept,” when a group gets together to meet at a bar
  • “La Bise, ”you’ve probably seen this done in many movies...the phrase for an air-kiss on the cheeks when two women or a woman and a man greet each other
  • “Aubaine,” means a sale
  • “Diner,” actually means lunch