Words that mean something totally different in Australia than they do in Canada (and can be very embarrassing and offensive).


A lot of countries in this world speak English as one of their official languages. Yet each one has subtle differences in vernacular, turns-of-phrase and of course, pronunciation, thanks to the country’s geographic location and the culture of its people.

Take Australia compared to Canada (and North America in general).

You only have to watch a couple of hours of any American TV show or movie to learn that there are quite a few words that mean different things in North America than what they do in Australia. Some things are called by a different name, and some things mean something else entirely.

Australians are blunt, brash and tell it like it is. Canadians are more tactful, politically-correct and reserved. An Aussie’s forwardness can be hard for a Canadian to stomach.

Unless the Canadians you’re speaking to are familiar with the way Australians talk, which they will they find cute and explain away with “Oh it’s okay, you’re Australian”, our way of speaking can be downright offensive to the average Canadian. Aussies overseas don’t realise that what they’re saying can mean something totally and completely different to what they’re used to it meaning back home.

So soften the blow and avoid the faux pas with this list of things you should definitely not say to Canadians, and ones you should know the meaning of when a Canadian says them to you.

The “C” word.

I’d say this is the most important one. This word holds a lot of weight here and you will rarely find someone in Canada who isn’t appalled when they hear someone use it. It is considered to be the filthiest word imaginable. Very unlike Australia, where it can be used positively as well as negatively, and is thrown around in casual conversation like it’s nothing.

Generous use of the “f” word

Choice phrases Aussies say like “Fuck me dead”, “Cant be fucked”, “Fucked if I know”, etc would never be said here.

The shits

Any variation of this such as: “I have the shits”, “You’re giving me the shits” “They cracked the shits” etc. Well here’s an eye-opener: having the shits in Canada means you have diarrhea. So stop using this phrase as soon as possible because you can see how it would be confusing. Imagine telling your co-workers something like “The boss is giving me the shits today.”!


An oft-mentioned one, but still needs to be here. Thongs are underwear here. So don’t be referring to anyone’s summer footwear as “thongs”. (Thankfully, it’s only hot enough to wear thongs here for about 3 months so you don’t have a huge window to make this error).


Calling someone a cow in Australia means they’re being rude or mean. Calling someone a cow in Canada means they’re very overweight.


Not that rude or offensive but a dead giveaway that you’re not Canadian. You will mostly hear people say “asshole” here. Sometimes “jerk” or “douchebag” if they’re trying to be a little less filthy.

Remember how I said Canadians are more politically correct?

Some names for things in Australia are tied to a race where the Canadian names aren’t.

Mexican Wave

In Canada it’s just The Wave

Want to play a game of Chinese Whispers?

It’s called Broken Telephone in Canada

But Canadians aren’t entirely innocent!

Here are some funny ones Canadians say that mean something a bit more vulgar back home.


In Canada, this refers to being in possession of two alcoholic drinks (or anything that you have two of), one in each hand, that you plan on consuming yourself.

Yep. Very different meaning. Australians know what it means down under. I’m not gonna paint a picture for you. This blog is not R rated.


In North America, this is your behind or bottom. A bum-bag is called a fanny pack here. Again, not gonna write what Australians use it for.


This is not a dirty word in Canada. In fact, it is the name of a popular clothing brand that has been around for decades. So you will see people wearing shirts that say ROOTS on them. Try not to giggle since root means have sex in Australia.

Canada, I never!


Randy is a name in this part of the world! But in Australia, it means horny. Sorry to all people named Randy. We’re really very sorry.


Pissed in North America means angry. Pissed in Australia means drunk. You also don’t “take the piss out of” someone in Canada. You make fun of them.

What are some others that have taken you by surprise? Or ones you’ve let slip and gotten a terrible reaction? Let me know in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Words that mean something totally different in Australia than they do in Canada (and can be very embarrassing and offensive).

  1. Pingback: How a Canadian ad made me question my Australian identity – An Aussie in Toronto

  2. Pingback: Seven things Aussies might find hard to get used to in Canada and the USA. | An Aussie in Toronto

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