13 Canadian Words with Totally Different U.S. Meanings

If you’ve ever visited Canada and saw signs for “parkades” or “washrooms,” then you’re no stranger to the quirky and sometimes comical differences in language between Canada and the U.S. We made a list of our favorite 13 Canadian words that mean something totally different in the U.S. Have you heard of any of these Canadianisms before?


1) Thongs

Though an apparel item in both countries, thongs are way less risqué in Canada, because they are simply flip-flops. Canadians, be careful when you tell your friends from the States what you’ll be wearing to the beach if this is in your everyday speech!


2) Runners

Canadians, if you ask for a pair of runners in the U.S., you may only get a blank stare. Typically, runners in the U.S. are called sneakers, running shoes, tennis shoes, or even kicks.


3) Garburator

Americans may smile when Canadians say they dispose of food via the garburator. The U.S. term for it is the less lively, garbage disposal.


4) Processed Cheese

The name for American cheese in Canada is processed cheese. As you can imagine, those in the States call it “American cheese.”


5) Tuque (sometimes spelled “Touque”)

If you shop for a beanie or a knit cap in Canada, you’ll likely walk away empty-handed. In Canada, you shop for a tuque.


6) Cutlery

Asking for silverware in a Canadian restaurant literally means you’d like your server to bring you utensils made of silver. Canadians call it cutlery.


7) Washroom

In Canada, people use washrooms. In the U.S., they use restrooms. Luckily, both countries say “bathrooms” as well, so when in doubt — this is your word!


8) Parkade

Canadian visitors in search of a parkade in the United States may have a very long drive in store. Better to look for a parking garage.


9) Coffee Whitener

Business trip in Canada? Don’t expect to find non-dairy creamer next to that pot of office coffee. Canadians get right to the point, calling it coffee whitener.


10) Back Bacon

Don’t ask for Canadian bacon in Canada. Instead, order your eggs with back bacon, as Canadians call it.


11) Brown Toast

If you order brown toast in a U.S. diner, you may get some “extra-crispy” burnt toast. Or a blank stare. Whole wheat toast is the U.S. equivalent.


12) Housecoat

After a shower, a dip in the pool, or before bed, Americans like to lounge in bathrobes, not housecoats, like they are called in Canada.


13) Serviette

Restaurant servers in the States will likely scratch their heads when Canadian customers request extra serviettes, the Canadian word for “paper napkins.”



If there’s one thing that needs no translation on either side, it’s Shakeology. It’s healthy, delicious, and available in seven flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Greenberry, Chocolate Vegan, Tropical Strawberry Vegan — and the newest flavor, Café Latte, is also now available in Canada. And the best part is, Shakeology is called Shakeology wherever you go!

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