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Canadian Lingo: Speaking uniquely and proudly Canadian eh

A lot defines us as Canadians. Our provinces and territories, our unique cultures and of course our languages set us apart as one of a kind. Although not obvious at first, our vocabulary contains unique words that stand apart from even other English speaking countries. Some of these turns of phrase may be very familiar to you and some may be new. Either way, it may surprise you that the very words you use today may be entirely Canadian.


Not an accidental slip of the tongue, the double use of the word double speaks to a very specific coffee order of two creams and two sugars. As Canadians we definitely love our hot coffee, but apparently we equally love cream and sugar in it as well. The phrase double-double was even added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004.


It may be a little wonder that Americans think all Canadians know every other Canadian when most of us say we are going to Timmies. Tim must be a really popular guy. Of course most of us know that we are referring to the Tim Horton’s coffee shop, but those who don’t may be wondering why they never get invited over to Tim’s house.

The Loonie and the Toonie

A bit of history is needed to appreciate the origin of these two words. In 1987, the Canadian one dollar bill was replaced with a Canadian one dollar coin, to which an image of the common loon was stamped. Soon after, our fellow animal loving Canadians affectionately referred to the coin as the Loonie, verses the Canadian Dollar. When the Canadian two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, the words ‘two’ and ‘Loonie’ were naturally merged and the coin was nicknamed the 'Toonie'.


This great turn of phrase is wonderfully Canadian and typically reserved for such traditional activities as curling or attempting to start your car under protest on a minus 30 degree winter’s day. The term give'er is a verb meaning to put great effort into something, and more than likely that great effort is of a physical nature.


Speaking of cold weather, what Canadian doesn't own their very own toque. This uniquely Canadian cold weather word was assimilated from the Canadian-French word tuque. The French and Métis fur traders brought the toque that we know and love to our country to keep warm during cold winter days. They clearly were ahead of their time as the fashion and cold weather continues to this day.


Another delicatessen gifted from Quebec, poutine is a special dish made with French fries, gravy and cheese. Those that approach the uniquely Canadian food with trepidation are quickly converted to its sinful delights. The guilty pleasure originated in Quebec in 1982, but can now be found in almost all national and international chains in Canada.

The all powerful Eh

It may be a stereotype that all Canadians end their sentences with ‘eh’, but its potential for such versatility may be what makes if more used than we think

Eh?: ‘What did you say?’ or ‘What do you think?’
EH?: A standard way to end any question.
Ehhhh!!: Wow!
EH!?: ‘What do you mean?”
Eh??: ‘You’re joking!!!??’
EH!!: Saying hello to someone at a distance.
Eh!: ‘Sure thing!’

That’s one powerful word! And much like the other words that are unique to Canada, we can be happy to claim the uniqueness of our own extraordinary words. So add an ‘eh’ to your day and say it proudly as only a Canadian can say it.


'Double-double'? Now you can look it up' - 2004

Definition of give 'er - 2014

Loonie - 2014

Toque - 2014

Poutine - 2014

Canadian...isms - 2014