24 Canadianisms Way More Interesting Than “Eh?”

From Mental Floss:

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The first and last historical dictionary of Canadian English, A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles, was published in 1967. A new edition has been in the works since 2005, and is scheduled for publication in 2014, but in the meantime the original dictionary has been put online and makes a wonderful place to search or browse through the wordy history of “our neighbors to the North” (either an Americanism or a cliché, depending on how you feel about it). Here are some Canadianisms that are much more interesting than the usual “eh?”

1. BACK JUNK

“Junk” was a word for a chunk of log or piece of firewood. “Back junk” is defined as “a large log placed at the back of a wood fire to make it last.”

2. CALGARY REDEYE

Skip the Bloody Mary and have one of these, “a mixture of tomato juice and beer, a drink associated with Calgary, Alberta, and the surrounding area.”

3. CALUMET FEVER

A term used among Ottawa valley lumberjacks, it referred to the “fear of riding a crib of logs down the slide at Calumet, Quebec.”

4. FISHOCRACY

A term describing the structure of the Newfoundland fishing industry. A 1940 source explains, “the fishocracy comprised in descending order: (1) the principal merchants, high officials, and some lawyers and medical men; (2) small merchants, important shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, and secondary officials; (3) grocers, master mechanics, and schooner holders; and (4) fishermen.”

5. HOGTOWN

A nickname for Toronto which some say harkens back to its role in the meat-packing industry, but which the dictionary says is “so called because outsiders accuse Torontonians of taking everything unto themselves.”

6. HYDRO

Hydro-electric power. Canadians still talk about dealing with their “hydro bill.”

7. IDIOT STICK

A small, cheap version of a Native totem pole sold to tourists in British Columbia.

8. IMPROVED BRITISHER

Good-natured teasing term for “an immigrant from the British Isles, especially an Englishman, who has been in Canada long enough to have lost some of his native shortcomings.” See also, “improved Scotsman.”

9. JAWBONE

An old Western slang term for credit, “presumably because the jawbone had to be exercised in speaking to win over the creditor.” A 1966 citation reads, “the mower parts would have been charged or, in the language of the country, put on his jawbone.”

10. MAL DE RAQUETTE

From the French for “snowshoe sickness.” It refers to “a painful state of inflamed joints and muscles affecting snowshoers, caused by undue strain on the tendons of the leg.”

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