This is a collection of regional sayings and curious words that should help you understand us if we’re ever on the news.
Ben’s or Ben’s bread - proprietary name, noun – A variety of white bread still available today. Originally began by Benjamin Moir in the early 1900s. The quintessential bread of Nova Scotia. Stop by the store and get me a loaf of Ben’s.
berrying - verb – to go picking berries, often a day long trip before the making of preserves and jellies. We went to the Valley berrying.
bewteeful – adjective – beautiful, only pronounced with more emphasis on the T area, such as bew-tee-full rather than bew-teh-full. That quilt is some bewteeful there you!
Big Ex – noun - the South Shore Exhibition, held at the end of July and the first of August at the Bridgewater Fair Grounds.Features lots of agricultural exhibits, animals, and a midway.
blueberry grunt - noun – local dish made from fresh blueberries boiled on the storetop with added doughboys. Served in a bowl. Mom made blueberry grunt last night for supper.
boughten – adjective – refers to ready-made products like a boughten quilt. I got one of those boughten quilts at Wal-Mart the other day.
The Bulletin - noun - local weekly newspaper called the Bridgewater Bulletin with key features as the Court Report and the classifieds. Published by Lighthouse Publishing in Bridgewater. Published in Lunenburg as the Progress Enterprise, with a different front page but similar content.Though it is officially published on Tuesdays, it’s available Monday afternoons.
chopping – noun - area in the woods which has been forested or cut. I walked through the choppin’ yesterday and saw a deer.
Christer – derogatory noun – troublemaker. That little Christer!
The City - noun – refers to Halifax. We went to the City over the weekend to pick up a powersaw.
cucumber salad – noun – a side dish made form sliced cucumbers and homemade sour cream. Cucumbers are first mixed with salt and pressed with a heavy object or dish so all the water is released. Once water has been removed from cucumbers, homemade sour cream (vinegar, cream, sugar, and pepper) is poured over them, and served cold. I sliced cucumbers to make cucumber salad for supper.
dasn’t (pro. das-ent) – contraction – Means must not or dare not. It is a contraction used by mothers, but not of anything known since dictionaries have started being kept. You dasn’t spoil your supper with that chocolate bar.
doeskin – noun – Lunenburg County sports wear. Actually, it was originally a jacket made of, quite literally, doe skin; these days, it’s more likely to be a wool jacket, often plaid. In cold weather, those doeskins are some warm, there you!
doughboys – verb – dumplings placed in stew. I enjoyed those doughboys in my turnipkraut last night.
dressing – noun – holiday special made from potato flavoured with allspice or poultry seasoning. I made sour cream for my dressing.
Dutch oven – noun - thick walled, cast iron cooking pot with a tight lid. Actually from the Dutch, not Deutsch. We made baked beans in the Dutch oven last night. – verb – releasing flatulence into a shared bed, then pulling the covers up over everyone’s head so no one misses the odour. Unsure if this comes from Dutch, Deutsche, or teenage boys. My brother did a Dutch oven last night.
Dutchy – adjective – someone who is very traditional, peasant-like. Derived from Deutsch, the German name for Germans. In theory, it should be Deutschy. Many original settlers to Lunenburg County were French protestants or German protestants known as the Foreign Protestants, part of a British settlement scheme circa 1750 to outnumber French Catholics in Acadia. She’s some Dutchy!
farther – noun – father
fam’ly – noun – family… cf. fambly
filum - noun - film
fluff – noun - whipped cream from a can (e.g. Rich Whip), and not “young woman” as it means in Newfoundland. I put fluff on my pancakes.
flyers – noun - each household gets a weekly package of flyers featuring store specials that week, along with the Lighthouse Log. The flyers are late this week!
fogeater – noun – a sun that burns away fog. We had some fogeater yesterday.
fussy – fond. I’m not too fussy on sauerkraut for dinner.
glass store – noun – Nova Scotia Liquor Commision store. We got a two-four at the glass store last night.
gutz - verb - to eat and consume food very fast. He gutzed a bunch of food into him last night.
hodgepodge - noun – a dish made from fresh garden vegetables like pototoes, peas, carrots, and beans. They are first boiled, then covered in a cream-butter sauce and served warm. We ate leftover hodgepodge for lunch today.
hoe – verb – to shovel food quickly. I hoed that food into me some fast.
hooters - noun – local slang for marijuana. The boys were smoking hooters last night.
humskies – noun – a group of evil doers or bad people. Those humskies broke into the liquor store last night.
jag – to be reallly drunk, or have a large load on a trailer or wagon. I had a good jag on there the other day. In the OED as an actual word.
jitney – noun – an old run-down vehicle. Boy, that’s some jitney going down the road. Actually in the OED.
Keji – noun – Kejimkujik National Park. A large park in southern Nova Scotia once inhabited by the Mi’kmaq.
kickoff – noun - nap. Had a little kickoff this evening.
kidney killer – noun - A sugary drink, often Kool-Aid. That kidney killer made me go to the bathroom all night.
kink – noun - nap. I had a good kink this afternoon.
leaded – adjective – full of alcohol, often a punch or drink. A nod to the days when gas had lead in it and you had to ask specifically for unleaded gas. This punch is leaded.
The Log - noun - The Lighthouse Log,a free weekly newspaper that features a few columns and classifieds. Published by Lighthouse Publishing.
make of – to pay attention to something or someone. If you don’t make of him, then he’ll leave you alone.
The Mersey – noun - a local logging corporation. It began with the Mersey Pulp and Paper mill just outside of Liverpool in 1929. Bowater bought it in 1956, becoming the Bowater Mersey. As of 2007, it is part of the Abitibi Bowater empire based in Quebec. Many men worked in the logging camps of the Mersey, deep in the woods of Southern Nova Scotia.
nellie – adjective - nearly. I’m nellie done lunch.
The Number 10 - noun – Trunk 10, which runs from Bridgewater to Middleton. From Bridgewater north, it runs along the LaHave Riveruntil Meisner’s Section.
obitchinary – noun – a small write up about a deceased individual. Nellie’s obitchinary was in the paper this morning.
owly - adjective – describing a bad mood. Don’t worry about him; he’s owly today.
ox pull – noun – a competition at garden parties and the Big Ex which pits teams of oxen against each other in pulling the heaviest loads.
pogey (pro. po-gee) - noun – the name for unemployment insurance, employment insurance, or whatever the dickens they call it. I still have to wait two weeks for my pogey since getting laid off.
popple - noun - the poplar tree. Terrible stuff and the first to grow. There’s nothing but a bunch of popple out back.
prostrate – noun – a walnut sized part of a male’s anatomy. My grandfather had prostrate cancer.
puddin - noun – grey sausages made with spices that can be eaten raw or boiled. Also called Lunenburg puddin. I boiled pudding last night for supper.
rangy – (pro. rang-ee)adjective – To be owly or irritable. After being in the barn all day, the horse was really rangy!
razz - verb -to make fun of someone; torment. I razzed my brother last night about his speeding ticket.
roll your own – noun – homemade cigarettes made from papers and tobacco. He always smoked roll your owns.
root – verb – to look for something like a pig looking for truffles. I rooted around until I found the reciple.
rumrunner - noun – person who engages in bootlegging trade, especially during prohibition. Often entailed bringing boatloads of rum into the coast. They were rumrunners back in the 1920s.
rutch - verb - to slide, have sex, or boar. We had to rutch that truck out of the ditch.
The San - The Sanitorium in Kentville, or the Nova Scotia Sanitorium for TB or consumption, open 1904 to 1977. It arose from the philosophy that lots of fresh air and bedrest was key to curing tuberculosis, especially back in the pre-antibiotic period. It’s now the site of the Valley Regional Hospital. My grandmother stayed at the San when she was young.
sauerkraut – noun- pickled cabbage, served as a side dish (e.g. with potatoes) or cooked with wiener or pork chops.
scrutch – verb - to drag along a surface. Stop scrutchin your feet along the floor.
shackwacky – adjective – cabin fever. I was feeling shackwacky.
shearing trees - verb – the act of trimming tree branches to make a perfect pyramid-shaped Christmas tree. It can be done with a machete or clippers. Many of the local Christmas trees are balsam fir, which are sold locally and shipped to the States.
shin - verb – to push or pull on something. Don’t shin on the heavy box or you’ll pull a muscle.
skun – verb or adjective – to cut or hurt. I ran out of their like a skun rabbit.
slacks- noun – pants. I bought a pair of slacks the other day.
smeltz potatoes - noun – boiled potatoes made with butter, onion, and cream. Mom made smeltz potatoes for supper.
smudge – noun - a fire. I had a good smudge on to keep the flies away.
sqwas – verb – a short version of squeeze. Pronounced sq-was. I squze the toothpaste too hard.
spring breakup - noun – a time in the late winter or spring when the Department of Transportation closes most of the roads to heavy trucks and overweight vehicles. This has economic implications for the forestry industry as no equipment or wood can be hauled on most roads except for trunk highways. The breakup refers to the breaking up of the road’s asphalt and mud in the woods. I had to go on EI during spring breakup.
solomon gundy – noun - salt pickled herring, made with onions and pickling spice. Often served as an appetizer. The fish is not cooked prior to pickling. Associated with Nova Scotia and Jamaica. It’s not clear if fishermen brought the recipe to Nova Scotia from Jamaica. My grandmother served solomon gundy last night for supper.
sook – noun – a crybaby or to act in a whining manner. He wouldn’t stop sooking last night, the darn sook. Note it is also used as a verb.
squirrel – verb - to spin vehicle tires. Those boys were out squirreling last night.
stove – verb – To smash something inwards. I stove in the front of my car when I hit that deer.
time - noun - a special event or occasion like a baby shower or anniversary part. We had a time for Jennifer and Steve over the weekend.
turnipkraut - noun – stew made with beef, sliced turnip, and vinegar. We ate turnipkraut last night.
two-four – noun – a flat of beer containing twenty four bottles. We bought a two-four for the bachelor party.
Tynol - noun – a form of painkiller which is usually pronounced tie-len-all rather than tie-knoll. I had to get some Tynol for my headache.
unleaded – adjective - something made without alcohol, like punch. Is this punch unleaded?
The Valley – noun – the Annapolis Valley, typically from about Annapolis Royal to Windsor.
wha – the short form of what. Often ends a sentence. That was some good sauerkraut, wha?
widow maker – noun – a half-fallen tree in the woods that could easy fall on someone logging.
windo – noun - shortened form of window.
would – do that, as in, You better would.
wraslin – verb – a form of wrestling that takes place on lawns or in living rooms after kids or man-kids watch wrestling of the entertainment (versus real) variety. You stop your wrastling!
you - a word ending a phrase for emphasis. I went to Bridgewater there you.
blow a slipper - get angry. Calm down and don’t blow a slipper!
can’t see for looking – even though you’re looking hard, you can’t see what you’re looking for. Well now, I can’t see for looking!
come a daisy onto her – pull hard, push hard, and hit hard.
cryin’ out loud – an expression of disgust. Oh, for cryin’ out loud!
cut, split, and delivered – the easy way to get your firewood. It’s so much a cord, cut, split, and delivered.
fetch it to me – bring it here. I need the remote control, so fetch it to me.
filled to the gills – really full. I just ate Christmas dinner and I’m filled to the gills.
fill the clock – fill the spedometer in a vehicle. Do you think that new car can fill the clock?
fill your boots - take as much as you want, or go right ahead. If you want some cake, fill your boots.
give’er the berries – to step on the gas pedal of your car
going into one – getting angry or about to have a fit. If this doesn’t get fixed, I’m going into one!
Hellish, Slow, and Wobbly - an old name for the Halifax and Southwestern Railway derived from its acronym H&SW and its bumpy ride. All the railbeds from the trains were converted to trails and tracks for recreational use after CN (which bought out the H&SW) discontinued the service in the 1980s. My grandfather used to take the Hellish, Slow and Wobbly.
hitch in the get along – someone who limps. He got a hitch in his get along.
make away with – to euthanize an animal or throw something out. I had to make away with the old pie in the fridge.
plank’er – put the gas pedal to the metal. It’s time to go, so plank’er.
For more information on local language, check out the following resources:
Carleton County Colloquialisms. John Morris. http://dooryard.ca/indexIntro.html
The Nova Scotia Book of Everything. John MacIntyre and Martha Wells. Lunenburg: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing, 2005.
The Nova Scotia Phrase Book: Sayings, Expressions, and Odd Names of Nova Scotia. Dan Soucoup. Halifax: Maritime Lines, 2007.