While it is still often perplexing, we are thoroughly enjoying learning the nuances of Canadian English and this page will be all about keeping track of some of the Canadianisms we come across, as well as providing translation to some Australianisms for our Canuck friends. If you haven’t already checked it out, head on over to our post on being ‘Lost in Translation‘ as that was the inspiration for this page.
Before we get started, please note this disclaimer: we do not claim to be etymological experts. We appreciate that there is no one rule for everyone from any given country, especially countries as wonderfully diverse as Australia and Canada. This is just a list of some language quirks we have come across and is intended to be a little bit of fun!
With that said, here goes:
Loonie (n.) is the colloquial name for the Canadian $1 coin.
Toonie (n.) is the colloquial name for the Canadian $2 coin.
Chintzy (adj.) (pronounced chint-see) is used to describe something which is poorly or cheaply made, or someone who is stingy or cheap (i.e. what Australians would describe as ‘tight‘).
Touque (n.) (pronounced t-ooh-k) is a knitted cap (i.e. what Australians call a beanie) also spelt toque, took or tuque.
Fountain drink (n.) is soft drink dispensed from a soda fountain (i.e. what Australians refer to as post-mix).
Broil (v.) is the process of cooking something by exposure to direct, intense radiant heat overhead (i.e. what Australians would describe as ‘grill‘ – which, unlike North American ‘grilling‘, is to cook something under direct heat, usually on the top rack of your oven when it is set to ‘grill‘).
For Here or To Go is a direct translation of ‘Eat In or Take Away‘, except that if you use the Australian phrase in Canada, you will unlikely be understood (at least in the first instance, and probably also when you repeat yourself).
Sweater (n.) is a typically long-sleeved garment, worn over the upper body (ie. an Australian ‘jumper‘). However, in the context of Aussie sports, a jumper may also refer to a player’s guernsey.
Appetizer (n.) in Canada is an Australian entrée. The Canadian entrée (n.) is the Australian main. We are pretty sure dessert translates into both languages!
Fruits, Veggies and Food Generally
Beet is an Australian beetroot. [And just for laughs, here’s a dad joke from Tristan: You can beat an egg, but you can’t beet a root!]
Squash in Canada is an Australian pumpkin. Pumpkin in Canada is a generally non-palatable vegetable used for carving jack-o-lanterns during Halloween and other table decorations during Thanksgiving. In case this isn’t confusing enough, an Australian squash is a Canadian summer squash, patty pan squash or courgette. Fortunately, a courgette (i.e. zucchini) is still called a zucchini.
Arugula is roquette (or rocket) in Australia, that deliciously peppery green leaf used in salad.
Cilantro is an Australian coriander, the herb that seems to divide the nation. For the record, we are both pro-coriander (and now, pro-cilantro).
Peppers are Australian capsicums, and yes, this also translates to pepper spray vs. capsicum spray. Peppers in Canada come in so many more colours than in Australia – the usual green, red and yellow, but also orange, purple (and any blend of these listed colours)!
Biscuit in Canada tends to describe a bread somewhat like a scone which is typically served as a side dish with a meal. What Australians call a biscuit, Canadians would call a cookie.
Ketchup is tomato sauce in Australia (but this one is already pretty well-known down under – doesn’t just saying ‘ketchup’ remind you of Mr. Burns’ Ketchup Catsup struggle?)
Popsicle is the North American word for an Australian icy pole – and no, Canadians will not work out what you are talking about no matter how many times you say “you know, like an icy pole… an ice-y pooooole?”
Fries are Australian chips. In Canada (and North America generally), chips refer to crisps (even though in Australia we use the word “chips” to describe both fries and chips). However, for the benefit of our Canadian readers, Australians (at least us anyway) would accept ‘fries‘ as a term to describe thinly sliced fries and ‘chips‘ to describe thicker cut fries. We also have ‘wedges‘, which are Canadian wedge-cut fries (but we just cut to the chase and call them ‘wedges‘.
Poutine (pronounced poo-tin) is a Canadian institution, which originated from the province of Quebec. In its truest form, it is essentially fries and cheese curds topped with light brown gravy. It is pretty much an Australian ‘chips and gravy‘ with what looks like chunks of bocconcini. Despite this sub par description, rest assured it is oh, so DELICIOUS. We will eventually dedicate a whole post to this truly Canadian dish and hopefully even learn how to make it ourselves.
Ute (n.) (pronounced you-t) is a utility vehicle which, in simple terms, is an Australian version of the North American pickup truck, but smaller and lower to the road. [Actually the North American pickup truck is a version of the ute, as Australians invented it in the first place, but who’s keeping count!]
Shrapnel (n.) is the colloquial term used by Australians to describe coins. For example, “Do you have any shrapnel to pay for parking?”
Thongs (n.) is not to be confused with the North American and singular ‘thong‘. In Australia, it is the word used in lieu of ‘flip flops‘. You may also find Australians who refer to their thongs as pluggers or double pluggers (if they have particularly sturdy underfoot construction).
Bogan (n.) is a slang term used to describe a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are unrefined or unsophisticated. Despite this description, it is not necessarily an insult to be a bogan and on Australia Day you will often find Australians will celebrate by embracing their inner bogan! The term ‘bogan‘ can also be used as an adjective to describe someone’s behaviour – for example “you’re being real bogan!” [In North American terms, a bogan probably sits somewhere between a red neck and a trucker.]
Esky (n.) is what Australians call a portable cooler or ice box. Despite the fact that Australians do not tend to call products by the most well-known brand name [like North Americans do when they call tissues ‘Kleenex‘ and photocopying ‘Xerox‘], Esky happens to be one of the few exceptions that proves the rule.
Root is not a popular brand of clothing in Australia, as is the case in Canada. It is a slang term which can be used as both a verb and noun. For example, in its verb form, ‘to root‘ describes the act of copulating. On a similar vein, as a noun, ‘to get a root‘ is to successfully secure… well, we’ll let you fill in the blanks.
Pissed (adj.) is an Australian slang term for being drunk – for example, “I’m so pissed.” You will no doubt appreciate this is the source of endless confusion in North America (and apparently everywhere else in the world), which uses the word to simply describe being angry, frustrated, annoyed, etc. Australians also use the word piss as a noun to describe alcohol (as opposed to the liquid by-product excreted through our urethras) – for example, “I got on the piss early today!” To make things more confusing, Australians love their alcohol, so you may also find us describing alcoholic beverages as booze and grog.
Goon (n.) is cheap boxed wine, which Wikipedia tells us is popular among Australian students. It is also popular among bogans.
Take a squiz (v.) is to have a look. For example: “I’m going to take a squiz in that window.”
Telly (n.) is the Australian short-form for television.
Tinnie (n.) is a canned beer. However, if it is spelt Tinny (n.), it is a reference to a metal dinghy.
VB (proper n.) is the acronym for Victoria Bitter, the quintessential Aussie beer enjoyed predominantly by bogans.
Snag (n.) is a slang term for sausage, which one would typically cook on the Barbie (n.), the Australian word for barbeque.
Let that one go through to the keeper is a phrase which finds its origins in cricket and is generally used to suggest that one not take the bait in an argument, or that one should not respond to the particular statement in question.
To bust a gut is to work hard or make a strenuous effort to achieve something. For example: “I bust a gut building that deck o’er the weekend.”
Bloke is an endearing slang term for a man (also used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand).
Kiwi (proper n.) is the (hopefully) universal term of endearment used to describe New Zealanders. It is not a term unique to Australia, but we didn’t want to create another category for it.
We will keep adding to this page as we encounter more Lost in Translation moments. If you have any Canadian or Australian phrases which you think should be added to our list, do let us know!
In the meantime, if you have some time and want a few laughs, you should definitely check out the Canada vs. Australia videos by Geneva [Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3]. She is a Canadian who spent a couple of years in Australia and her videos were very educational (and a source of a lot of entertainment) during our early months in the Great White North.