36 French Canadian Words and Phrases

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.

French Canadian Words

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

French Canadian Expressions

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 info@vidalingua.com 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.

Christine Ducos-Restagno
Linguiste langue française

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