English/Canuck Dictionary

Never realised there were so many differences…

  • Chips – Fries
  • Crisps – Chips
  • Linseed – Flaxseed
  • Sweets – Candy
  • Lollipops – Suckers
  • Porridge – Oatmeal
  • Ice lollies – Popsicles
  • Courgettes – Zuchini
  • Coriander – Cilantro
  • Biscuits – Cookies
  • Scones – Tea biscuits
  • Squash – Not widely available, called Cordial and usually restricted to Roses Lime
  • Fish fingers – Fish sticks
  • Prawn – Shrimp
  • Rocket – Arugula
  • Swede – Rutabago
  • Pasta – Noodles
  • Coffee – Tim’s :-)
  • Soft drink – Pop
  • Sieve – Sifter
  • Nappies – Diapers
  • Pooh – Poop
  • Pushchair – Stroller
  • See-Saw – Teeter-Totter
  • Trousers – Pants
  • Trainers – Runners
  • Plasters – Band aid
  • Cello-tape – Scotch tape
  • Tissue – Kleenex
  • Toilet – Washroom
  • Garden – Yard
  • Rubbish – Garbage
  • Bin – Trash
  • Lorry – Truck
  • Fire-engine – Fire-truck
  • Fire-station – Fire hall
  • Dollar – Buck, Loonie
  • Chemist – Drugstore
  • Off-licence – LCBO (Govt run liquor store)
  • The Doctors – The Clinic
  • Pavement – Sidewalk
  • College/University – School
  • Break time – Recess
  • Holiday – Vacation
  • Carpark – Parking lot/parkette
  • Multi-storey carpark – Parkade
  • Boot – trunk
  • Bonnet – hood
  • Wing – Fender
  • Estate car – Stationwagon
  • Saloon car – Sedan
  • Small car (Fiesta, Golf etc.) – Compact
  • Gearbox – Transmission
  • Manual – Stick shift
  • Indicators – Turn signals
  • Windscreen – Windshield
  • Rental car – Hire car
  • Central reservation – Median
  • Motorway – Interstate
  • Number plate – Licence plate
  • Kilometre – Click
  • Give way – Yield
  • Petrol station – Gas bar
  • Lollipop Man/Woman – Crossing guard
  • Post – Mail
  • Electricity – Hydro
  • Prison – Hoosegow

Some random slang…

Bad – Brutal, as in, “Man that hockey game last night was brutal”

Double-double – a cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s with two creams and two sugars

Johnny-on-the-spot – Portaloo

“On the pogey” – on unemployment benefits, welfare

Travel Tips on raveable
Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. Excellent reading! Keep it up. K sent me the link. Until recently, I worked with him and I kept reminding him that “annual leave” is “vacation” in Canuck speak! Timothy

    1. Thanks Timothy 🙂 That’s another one to add to the list! It doesn’t matter how many times you remind K, he will still stick to his terms – it’s the same scenario with his socks and the laundry basket I’m afraid, no amount of re-education has any effect.

  2. I think you’ve got one in the wrong order – “rental car” is Canadian and should therefore be listed after “hire car”. And, really, you call a crossing guard a “lollipop man/woman”?!?!?!

    1. Thanks Melissa, maybe it’s more a personal preference thing than a cultural thing – unless the term Hire Car is from the US and has permeated the global consciousness through the medium of TV & Film! Thanks for signing up, great to have you on board 🙂

  3. I will always remember my first day of working in Canada in 1979. I was sent downstairs to the coffee shop to buy coffee and muffins. I looked high and low for “muffins” but all I could find were “buns” 😉 Returning without them, a patient but amused colleague had to take me back down again and explain what “muffins” were in Canada.

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for the anecdote, I can imagine the mirth having experienced it a few times myself when a linguistic perplexity has occurred. But this is a new one on me – please explain, are the buns plain or the currant variety and called muffins? Or are muffins known as buns? I have noticed that people here often eat muffins cut open with butter spead on them, that was an eye-opener. They seem to be viewed more as a type of bread than a little cake. :-S

      1. Muffins are different from English buns. They’re usually made with oil, rather than butter or margarine and should be less sweet, although as you have observed there’s far too much sugar in most things here. And yes, some people do butter them, but then some Brits put butter on fruit cake and cheese with apple pie!

        1. Good point – I have been known to put butter on certain “loaf” cakes myself, but, Apple pie with cheese??!! I have a Belgian friend who advocates cheese and jam (blackcurrent works wonderfully – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!) but cheese with apple pie is something I have never heard of!

  4. Canadian here, adding my two cents.
    Only the leaves of the plant are referred to as cilantro, the seed (and the spice made by grinding the seed) are referred to as coriander in Canada as well.
    Also noodles isn’t another way to say pasta, noodles are a specific type of pasta, usually thin and long and found in Asian cuisine.
    I also agree that I’ve only ever heard rental car, not hire car and we actually refer to a motorway/interstate as a highway, at least in Toronto. In driver’s ed we learn that freeway is actually the correct term and highway should refer to regular streets, but commonly everybody calls your “motorway” the highway.
    And we refer to your “petrol station” as a gas station, I’ve never heard gas bar before lol, I can assure you, you’d get strange looks using that one! Other things that I’ve never heard are kilometers being referred to as clicks (we just call them kilometers), and what is a hoosegow?? lol

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