Words That Canadians Know and Say!

September 21, 2021

Words That Canadians Know and Say!

Did you know that the vocabulary of Canadians go further than just copying their American cousins? There are a lot of words that are used by Canadians that you may not know or may know a different phrase for. Stepping away from the obvious “Eh?”, “Postal Code”, “Poutine”, and “Toonie”, there are a lot more words that may be absolutely new to you, especially if you live outside of Canada.

If you are Canadian and reading this, it’s ok. This can be a learning experience for you! Maybe you’ll end up using these words with your fellow “Canucks”. Speaking of which…

Canuck:

The first word actually is a nickname used for Canadians. Awhile back in the 19th century, it was used as a negative implication, usually towards people that were foreigners, Lower Canada, or even Quebec citizens. Later on, Canadians took the phrase and made it into something of pride rather than scorn. Now it just refers to Canadians, regardless of race, ethnicity, or language. You probably would be more familiar with “Canucks” from the National Hockey League Franchise, “the Vancouver Canucks”. So basically “the Vancouver Canadians” but I guess Montreal’s hockey team already took that name.

Mickey, Two-Four, Rye & Ginger:

Feel like a drink? Why not take a swig of that Mickey in your coat-pocket or a two-four at LCBO? Unless you’re down for a rye & ginger at the local bar because I’m down for one! If you are thinking this has something to do with alcohol, you are on-point! Each one of those words (Mickey, Two-Four, Rye & Ginger) refers to an alcoholic beverage of some sort. “Mickey” refers to a 375 ml (13oz) bottle of liquor. It’s a pretty small bottle for sure. It’s enough to just fit into your pocket, although I personally don’t know if you are allowed to carry one even that small. A “Two-Four” is a case of beer with 24 cans inside, hence where “Two-Four” comes from. “Rye & Ginger” is talking about a specific drink, more commonly known as Canadian whiskey and ginger-ale. You probably had an idea about it since Whiskey is made from fermented grains, which can include rye.

Give’r:

Give’r is a pretty weird looking word. You may think it means to give something or “give here/give her” shorten, but there is more to it. It means to give it all you got or beyond expectations. According to some definitions on urban dictionary, it was made popular by the 2002 movie, “FUBAR” and is used a lot in western provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta. A sentence with “give’r” could be like: “I’m gonna go to this exam and give’r” or “Just give’r or you won’t get that gold medal”.

Molson Muscle:

You know what a Canadian Molson is, right? You know, Canadian Beer? Well, take Molson from there and put muscle at the end. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Although, it doesn’t mean that by drinking Molson, you will suddenly gain a six-pack or huge biceps from it. On the contrary, you get the opposite. “Molson Muscle” is talking about a “potbelly” or “beer-belly”. According to wordsense.eu, the first instance of the phrase comes from 1986 from a research paper on addiction, specifically alcohol where the researchers jokingly referred to the distribution curb as how Canadians will call “Molson Muscle”. Although, this makes it sound like the phrase goes further back than this paper. Probably Canadians were saying it since Canadian Molson’s creation.

Pogey:

No it is not another way to say pogo sticks nor is a hotdog on a stick. It actually refers to welfare, unemployment insurance, or government relief. The etymology of the word derives from 1891 in British slang meaning “Poorhouse”. So not the nicest word in the world since it does sound like it is used in a negative way, but that is another word that Canadians use.

Chesterfield and Eavestroughs:

Chesterfield and Eavestrough are odd words that mean common things in Canada. Chesterfield is known as a couch or sofa whereas Eavestrough refers to the trough on the side of buildings that drain water from the rooftops. Some would call them gutters. Chesterfield’s origin comes from Britain which described sofas that were made in the 1800s, specifically commissioned by an Earl. Nowadays, it isn’t used for any specific sofa, but just sofas in general. Talk about a demotion.  Eavestrough on the other hand is just putting the two words “Eaves” and “Trough” together. These two words have specific meanings that together refer to the rain gutter as some would call it: “Eaves” being the underside of a roof and Trough being a tub or basin for liquids.

Hoser and Keener:

Do you see someone walking around without any class or refinement? That’s a “hoser”. The same person is trying way too hard to look good and show-off? That person is also a “keener”. That’s pretty much what the words mean. The word “hoser” became popular in the early 1980s on the comedy show “SCTV” with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, even though they aren’t the first to use the word in general. The origin of “Keener” is more of a mystery. It’s based on the word “Keen” which means smart or clever in old English. Maybe someone looked at the word “keen” and thought they could describe someone that is smart with the word. Time passes on and it started to be used more negatively.

And there you have it. Now you have a stronger Canadian vocabulary now! Just some pointers though before you go off and use these words. You should probably make sure that the person you are going to use these words with knows these words well enough, so there isn’t any confusions. It’s hard to say if most Canadians use these words on a daily basis, but if you end up hearing these words from your Canadian friends, now you can feel confident knowing that you are not left out. Now give’r!

Sources:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pogey

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/trough#English

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/eavestrough

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chesterfield

https://www.timelesschesterfields.com/history-of-the-chesterfield-sofa-i152

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=giver

https://www.wordsense.eu/Molson_muscle/

https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~steffan/canadianisms.html

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/canuck

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hoser

https://www.queensu.ca/strathy/blog/adventures-canadianisms




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