You thought you were fluent in French but don't understand French Canadian? It happens to French people too! Even if the differences between French from France and French from Canada are mainly in pronunciation, some French Canadian words and expressions are local specialties.
Québécois today is the result of Classical French, imported in North America in the 16th century by the French colonists, mixed with American English and Ameridian influences.
When travelling in Quebec, you will come across many vocabulary words and sayings that are specific to Canadian French. The language used by Quebecois reflects both their openness to the world and their strong attachment to their roots.
We've compiled a list of the most commonly used Quebecker words and sayings to help you talk like a native. If you want to keep them in your pocket, you might want to try French Translator & Dictionary + by Vidalingua. You can download it for free on your iPhone or Android.
achaler – to annoy
boucane – smoke
babiche – snowshoe
baladodiffusion – podcasting
char – car
clavardage – chat
cotteur - sidewalk
espadrilles – sport shoes
jambette – trip
laveuse - washing-machine
linge – dish towel
liqueur – soda
magasinage – shopping
robeur – tire
souper – dinner
tiguidou - awesome
attendre que le curé se mouche - to take your time
Literally: to wait for the priest to blow his nose
avoir de la broue dans le toupet - to be snowed under
Literally: to have foam in your hair
avoir la fly à l’air - to have your fly open
Literally: to have your fly in the air
avoir du front tout le tour de la tête - to have some nerve
Literally: to have a forehead all around the head
avoir de la mine dans le crayon - to be a horny devil
Literally: to have lead in one’s pencil
caller l’orignal - to have a hangover
Literally: to call the moose
donner son 4% - to lay somebody off
Literally: to give somebody his/her 4%
être vite sur ses patins - to be quick off the mark
Literally: to be quick on one’s skates
faire du train - to make a lot of noise
Literally: to make a train
cogner des clous - to fight off sleepiness
Literally: to bang nails
niaiser avec la puck - to bit about the bush
Literally: to tease the puck
osti de câlisse de ciboire de tabarnak - holy shit
Literally: Host of chalice of wafer box of tabernacle
se paqueter la fraise - to get punch drunk
Literally: to wrap your strawberry up
parler à travers son chapeau - to talk through one’s hat
Literally: to talk through one’s hat
passer la nuit sur la corde à linge - to stay up all night
Literally: to spend the night on the washing line
péter de la broue - to show off
Literally: to blow from the foam
tomber des peaux de lièvres - to snow heavily
Literally: it's snowing rabbit skins
Did we miss a French Canadian word or expression? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know and we'll add it!
If you want to learn other French expressions, check out our article on Funny French Idioms Explained in English.
All the expressions in this article and millions more are available for free in PhraseMates for iPhone and Android.
Linguiste langue française