Canadian English

Canadian English is very similar to American English, although we borrow the spelling of certain words from British English. Like all countries where English is spoken, Canada has its own accent, slang and regional expressions.

Do you know any of these Canadianisms?

  • Adding value: Adding an additional benefit, over and above that expected, to a business venture or relationship
  • Allophone: Person whose first language is neither English nor French
  • Brain dump: To explain absolutely everything you know about a particular topic
  • Bucks: Slang for dollar; for example, “5 bucks” is the same as “5 dollars”
  • Clicks: Slang for kilometres
  • Ducks in a row: All arrangements have been efficiently ordered
  • Drilling down: Learning more information and detail about a topic or issue
  • Eh?: A typical Canadian phrase that can mean “What did you say?”, “Repeat that please,” or “Do you know what I mean?”.
  • Ticking all the right boxes: Fitting the required criteria.
  • Face time: Meeting or working face-to-face with a colleague or business partner, instead of by using the phone or e-mail as is often the case in a Canadian workplace
  • Francophone: Person whose first language is French.
  • Getting down to business: In some cultures it would be considered rude not to offer a client, business partner or colleague something to drink, and enquire about their family, health or journey before starting to talk about business. In Canada, however, it is considered normal to introduce oneself briefly, and then immediately start talking about business, even if it is the first time you have met this person.
  • Getting in on the ground floor: Being involved at the start of something
  • Hydro: A common synonym for electrical service. Many Canadian provincial electric companies generate power from hydroelectricity, and incorporate the term "Hydro" in their names.
  • Level playing field: A position of equality, without any unfair advantage for any person involved
  • Line-up: Queue or line
  • Loonie/Toonie: One-dollar and two-dollar coins. The one-dollar coin has a bird known as a loon on it, hence the “loonie”.
  • National and Provincial Parks: A Canada-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, these parks serve to protect and conserve the natural environment and to promote public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment
  • Peameal: Also known as Canadian bacon, peameal bacon or back bacon. Thick sliced pork with ground corn around the edges
  • Pop: Soft drink, but not soda. If you ask for soda you may get carbonated water or soda water instead.
  • Runners: Sneakers; athletic or sports shoes
  • Shinny: A game of hockey played on the streets
  • Thinking outside the box: Being creative and not confined by your job description
  • Timbits: Small doughnuts, made from the centre of a doughnut; sold at Tim Horton’s Coffee Shops, a popular chain of restaurants
  • Toque/Tuque: Winter hat, usually woolly
  • Walking the talk: Doing, or performing, as you say you will
  • Win-win situation: One in which you can't lose, or in which both people involved benefit