Canadian English has its own unique vocabulary used only in the Great White North, and our most recent new words update saw a host of these distinctly Canadian words and phrases added to Oxford Dictionaries.
Whether you’re a Calgarian, a Winnipegger, or from somewhere in between, we think that’s worth celebrating!
Take a trip through the vast and varying landscape of our new Canadian English additions:
If you’re in Newfoundland or the Maritime Provinces, you might celebrate with a kitchen party – that is ‘an informal social gathering with music and dancing, typically held at a person’s home’. Certainly it seems wiser to host your own event rather than take a trip to the booze can (‘a bar… that operates without an official permit’), even if you think you could pick up a bargoon there – a humorous pronunciation of bargain, first seen in the 1960s.
Whatever your excuse to party – your best friend’s stagette (a hen or bachelorette party), making the most of May Long, or your ice hockey team’s victory as a result of a spectacular spin-o-rama – let’s hope you get good weather. No one wants a humidex that’s too high or for a storm to topple the hydro lines when you’ve got big plans.
If it does get a bit chilly, you’d be better off snuggling into your bunny hug – known by the rest of the world as ‘a hooded sweatshirt’ or hoody – and maybe putting on a pair of mittens, which you never lose thanks to your idiot string.
If you get lucky with the weather, perhaps you can settle back in your Muskoka chair, ‘an armchair for outdoor use’, named after the district in Ontario and more commonly known as an Adirondack chair in the US. But if the power is down, you can at least gather round for a game of crokinole, a game played largely in Canada in which players take turns flicking small discs across a circular playing surface with the aim of displacing opponents’ pieces and landing in the higher-scoring central sections.
While you’re playing, why not rustle up something to eat? You might fancy a cottage roll (‘pickled, boneless ham prepared from pork shoulder’) or perhaps something lighter like a Montreal bagel. If you’re not up to cooking, you could order a donair, which consists of a pitta filled with tomatoes, onions, sweet sauce, and the star ingredient: slices of spiced meat, usually beef, cooked on a spit.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games: we’ve also added new words relating to Canada’s political sphere. The country is divided into provinces, and each province might be referred to as a have province or a have-not province, depending on whether its per capita tax revenue falls below the national average. The have-not provinces, where the tax revenue is lower, receive equalization payments from the federal government – also known as Parliament Hill, referencing the hill and surrounding area in Ottawa where the Canadian parliament and many other government offices are situated.
On Parliament Hill, decisions are made that can affect Edmontonians, Gaspesians, Haligonians, Rupertites, Torontonians, and more Canadians besides – with these demonyms used both as a noun in reference to the inhabitants of the city or province, and as an adjective to describe something ‘relating to or characteristic of’ the place in question.
On Sussex Drive: the Governor General lives at number 1, and the Prime Minister lives at number 24. This means that twice, over the years, number 24 has been subject of Trudeaumania: between 1968 and 1979 when Pierre Trudeau lived there, and now since 2015, when his son Justin Trudeau was elected and moved in.
The Trudeaus have world recognition, but do you know who Sally Ann is? We’re cheating a bit here, because Sally Ann is not a person at all, but an alteration of Salvation Army used in Canada to refer to the charity itself or the shops they run.
Whether you’re working in the private sector or the public sector, you want to avoid turning things into a gong show – ‘a situation or event marked by chaos and incompetence’.