9 Phrases That Confused The Hell Out Of Me When I Moved To Canada From The UK

It turns out Canadian and British slang are NOT the same! 🙈

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9 Phrases That Confused The Hell Out Of Me When I Moved To Canada From The UK

Just give’er, eh?! When I moved from the U.K. to Canada back in 2019, I wasn’t too worried about potential language barriers on my new adventure.

As an English-speaker, who studied French in school too, I was pretty confident I had what I needed to get by. I was also under the assumption that British-English and Canadian-English were sort of the same thing.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Within days, I was wishing for a pocket dictionary on Canadian slang and regularly searching words I had never heard before.

While all of these terms have quietly and surprisingly naturally slid into my day-to-day vocabulary, here are some of the phrases that confused the hell out of me when I first arrived here:

Eh?

OK so in my experience, the stereotype that Canadians use “eh” a lot is pretty accurate. It took a minute for me to learn that the sound often requires a response, although not always, and that it does not sound as fun in a British accent. Sigh.

Loonie/Toonie

In the U.K., a “loony” is a word sometimes used to describe someone who is acting a little outrageous or silly. Until arriving in Canada, I had no idea the same sound referred to money!

Brits often refer to £1 as a “quid” and £5 as a “fiver,” but we don’t have a common term for £2!

Clicks/Klicks

Because we work in miles generally in the U.K., rather than kilometres, this word confused me several times over.

Not only did it take a hot second to realize Canadians often operate in kilometres, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that “clicks” or “klicks” refers to a distance in kilometres.

It seems obvious when you know, eh?

Double-double

There are a surprising number of Tim Hortons terms that don’t mean anything if you’re out of the loop.

As a newcomer, I was confused by “Tims,” “Timmies,” “double-double," "one by one" and “Timbit,” among a few others.

Naturally, it didn’t take long before I was familiar with these Canuck words. Yum!

Two-four

Before landing in the Great White North, I had never heard of a two-four. Beer-loving Brits have many different terms of endearment for cases of alcohol, but this isn’t one of them!

Instead, a “24-pack” would be a commonly used phrase in this case, or even just “24 cans” or “24 tinnies.”

The 6ix

Although in my experience this isn’t a term used much outside of Toronto, when I landed at Toronto Pearson it did come up a couple of times, including in the first taxi I caught from the airport.

I blame Drake for confusing a whole host of newcomers to Canada, although you have to admit it’s a pretty cool nickname.

Snowbirds

It’s incredible how wrong you can be about something for the longest time. For several weeks post-arrival, I assumed the word “snowbird” referred to some kind of snowy, magical, wintry bird.

Although it seems silly in hindsight, you’d be surprised at how many instances this misinterpretation makes perfect sense!

BeaverTail

Oh man, this was a biggie. Before arriving, I knew beavers were pretty iconic to Canadians, so you can imagine my horror when I discovered there was a delicacy known as a “BeaverTail.”

I was kindly corrected before my imagination went too wild and was pleasantly surprised to try an authentic BeaverTail in Ottawa (no animals included).

Give’er

OK, I’ll be completely honest I’m still not 100% sure what exactly this means. I know it’s a term of general encouragement, but that’s as far as I’ve got.

I’ve heard it used when it comes to drinking, sports, hangovers, exercise and every instance in between. Just give’er!

If you’re wondering what British slang words have been lost on my Canadian counterparts during my time here, terms and phrases like “cuppa” (cup of tea), “can’t be arsed” (can’t be bothered), “bloke” (man), “dodgy” (shady), and “skint” (out of money) have all left my Canuck friends confused ... Sorry!

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

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