Edmonton Slang Terms

November 29, 2006

For the past several weeks I’ve been polling my fellow Edmontonians, asking them to offer sayings or idioms that are, for the most part, exclusive to Edmonton. Some very interesting wordage surfaced. Some sayings were obvious and silly, some were crass and offensive, and some were rare and poetic. I present them now for your reading pleasure. Note that not all of these terms are necessarily exclusive to Edmonton. Don’t send me emails or comments saying, “hey, that phrase isn’t exclusive to Edmonton!” I know. I’ve thrown in a few that are just too good to not share with everyone (i.e. “Dildonic Asshammer”). I questioned the addition of obvious contractions like, “The Park” (for Sherwood Park), but have included them for the sake of completeness. Contributors are noted in brackets after the phrase description. The one question that I kept in mind when compiling this list: “If I were completely new to the Edmonton area, what local terms might require explaining?”

I do not claim this list complete or even comprehensive. Rather, I offer it as a starting point and discussion topic. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to add/comment.

July 4, 2007: Comments for this article are closed, but if you’d like to add a term or two to the list, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to see your contribution.

  • 9th Street – 109 Street. Used similarly for other streets like 124th , 149th , and 156th.
  • A.B.C. – Anyone But Calgary. Used by hockey and football fans to enhance their devotion to Edmonton and their hatred for Calgary.
  • AGT Tower – Old name for Telus Tower. Once the tallest building in Edmonton, the tower had an observation deck on the top floor. Now, that observation deck is a boardroom.
  • Alex, The (or The Alec) – The Royal Alexandra Hospital, located on 111 Avenue between 102 street and 105 street.
  • A & N Boutique – The Army and Navy department store. (Not really Edmonton-specific, but used widely) (Clayton Miller)
  • Ave, The – Has referred to various avenues in days gone by (118th and Jasper Avenues most prominently). Now refers almost exclusively to Whyte Avenue.
  • Base, The – Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, located north of Edmonton.
  • Bend, The – The neighbourhood of Riverbend (see also RVB) (Matthew Whitman, Nov 08)
  • Beverly Town – The area east of 50th Street along 118th Avenue. Refers to the old Town of Beverly, once a separate town, annexed by Edmonton in 1961.
  • B-Grav – The neighbourhood of Belgravia (Matthew Whitman, Nov 08)
  • Big Onion, The – Another name for Edmonton. An obviously unfavorable comparison to New York. (Darren Hagen)
  • Blues – Another name for The Commie. (Mandie Lopatka).
  • Bridge, The – The High Level Bridge. Since the High Level is E-Town’s most prominent bridge, it is called THE Bridge.
  • Bulldog Eating Mayonnaise, A – What a woman’s vagina is supposed to resemble after a vigorous sexual interlude. (Henk Benne)
  • Burn a Shit Hawk (or Shit Hook) – To make an illegal U-turn. Not exclusive to Edmonton, but an entertaining term.
  • CandyCane Lane – A group of houses on 148th street between 100th Ave and 92nd Avenue. Locally famous for going all-out with Christmas decorations.
  • Capilano, The – Old name for a freeway in the city’s eastern area (accessed via 75th Street), now known as Wayne Gretzky Drive.
  • ‘Chuck, The – A shortened version of Edmonchuk, a slang term that slights the large Ukrainian population found in Edmonton.
  • City of Champions, The – Edmonton was so nicknamed (by ourselves) in the 80’s when our sports teams were cleaning house. The term is now viewed as, for the most part, an embarrassingly-phrased reminder of past glory/hubris. Seldom used now except with irony.
  • Clareview – A neighbourhood in North Edmonton. The name is (loosely) used by outsiders to name the Northeast end of the city, and is often used with disdain.
  • “Colder than a well-digger’s ass” – This one has many variants, most of them sexist in connotation. Notable examples: Colder than a whore’s heart, colder than a Nun’s cunny (or nunt), colder than a witch’s tit (John Chalmers).
  • Coliseum, The – Old name for the city’s professional hockey arena. Home of the Edmonton Oilers. The name is still used by those old enough to remember. Was once called Skyreach Center; now (as of November 2006) called Rexall Place.
  • Commie, The – The Blues On Whyte Pub, located in the Commercial Hotel on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. Also reflects the generally left-leaning clientelle of the establishment.
  • Cowtown – Calgary.
  • Crest, The – A watering hole located in the Beverly Crest hotel, in the neighbourhood of Beverly on the city’s east side. The bar has changed names several times, but remains, to locals, “The Crest”.
  • D.A.‘s – Once referred to Denny Andrew’s American Bar, a notorious West-End nightspot in the 80’s. Now long gone, but resurrected when speaking of newer nightclubs, i.e. “This place is totally D.A.‘s”
  • Dead Cop Park – Offensive term for Constable Ezio Farone Park, a beautiful lookout perched on the lip of the river valley at the northern terminus of the High Level Bridge. Named after a police constable who was gunned down in the line of duty.
  • Deadmonton – Not used by E-Towners much, but a term of disdain used by outsiders.
  • Derrick, The – The Derrick Golf & Country Club in South Edmonton. (John Chalmers)
  • Dildonic Asshammer – A moron; stupid person; idiot. Applied especially to journalists. (Mingus Tourette)
  • Dog, The – The Black Dog Pub, located on Whyte Avenue. (Nicole Pakan)
  • Edmonchuk – A slight used to poke fun at E-Town’s large Ukrainian population.
  • Edmonton Block Heater – Euphemism for toque.
  • Egg, The – The giant Ukrainian Easter Egg in Vegreville, east of Edmonton.
  • E-Town – A contracted version of Edmonton (obviously). Coined by the late, great DJ Teddy, Edmonton’s first soul DJ. (Minister Faust)
  • ETS – The Edmonton Transit Service. Typically pronounced “e-t-s”, but occasionally pronounced “ets” (rhymes with “gets”).
  • E-Ville – A cooler version of “E-Town”, but not widely used except (sparingly) by the media.
  • Fort Mac, Fort Crack – Refers to Fort McMurray, the oil-rich city North of Edmonton. “Fort Crack” has a few connotations – the obvious ass reference, as well as a more subtle reference to the preponderance of drug and alcohol abuse in the area.
  • Fort, The – Fort Saskatchewan. A small city north of Edmonton.
  • Gateway – Primary connotation is Gateway Boulevard, the city’s main southern highway entrance. Can also mean Gateway Park, on the city’s south-central border.
  • Ghetto, The – Edmonton has no true ghettos, but the term is sometimes used to describe the city’s North Side.
  • “Give ‘er” or “Givin’ er” – To go; as in “Man, I was totally givin’ ‘er down 137th last night!”
  • Gretz – Term of affection for Wayne Gretzky, who spent his best hockey years in Edmonton.
  • Groat – Refers to Groat Road, a picturesque road that winds to and from Edmonton’s river valley.
  • Grove, The – Spruce Grove, a small city west of Edmonton.
  • Head, The – The Yellowhead freeway on the city’s North Side. Also used with affection to refer to the Yellowhead Motor Inn – a seedy, dilapidated hotel located on the Yellowhead and 149 Street.
  • “Hide and Seek for Two Grand A Week” – A term used by tradesmem in Northern Alberta to describe working at an oil plant. (e.g. “Ever since I moved to Fort Crack, it’s been hide and seek for two grand a week.”) (Stuart Gravel)
  • J.P. – Short for Jasper Place, a neighborhood along Stony Plain Road west of 149 Street. Significant because Jasper Place was a separate town until annexed by Edmonton in 1964.
  • Jube, The – The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. A swanky concert hall located on the University campus.
  • K-97 – Old album-oriented rock and roll station that dominated E-Town airwaves in the 80’s and early 90’s. Has been replaced by K-Rock, a pale successor to the old station’s glory.
  • King Ralph, Uncle Ralph – The former Premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein.
  • Klondike Days – Old name for the City’s annual fair; now called “Capital Ex”.
  • K-Wing – Kingsway Garden Mall. Rarely used.
  • L.A. – Short for Leduc, Alberta – a small city located south of Edmonton.
  • Le Duck – Refers to Leduc, a small city located south of Edmonton.
  • Leg, The – (pronounced “the ledge”) Not really an Edmonton-specific term, but refers to the Provincial Legislature located south of Downtown.
  • Lert, The – Phonetic spelling of the LRT – Light Rail Transit.
  • “Like Jack The Bear” – Easy, or well. (e.g. “My new long johns insulate like Jack the Bear,” or, “That tow rope works like Jack the Bear”)
  • Little India – A retail district on 34th Avenue from 91 street to about 97 street, dominated by East Indian businesses. Also used to describe Millwoods, a suburb in the south east corner of the city (typically used in an offensive way).
  • Little Italy – Italian area of Edmonton, comprising (approximately) the area between 107 and 118 avenues, and 93 and 95 streets.
  • Mac, The – The Hotel MacDonald, a swanky, historic hotel in downtown Edmonton.
  • Mall, The – West Edmonton Mall.
  • Max, The – The maximum security federal penitentiary located just north of Edmonton.
  • MCK – The neighbourhood of McKernan (Matthew Whitman, Nov 08)
  • Mess – Same as “Gretz”, but applied to the equally awesome Mark Messier.
  • Milly Woods – Somewhat offensive slang for Millwoods, a suburb in south Edmonton. Other related terms: IllWoods and MillHood (submitted by Nolan), Killwoods (submitted by Nathan). These terms refer to Millwood’s unfavorable (and somewhat undeserved) reputation as a haven for gangs.
  • Miz, The – The Misericordia Hospital. Located in the city’s west end.
  • Moronville – Offensive alternate name for Morinville, a small city north of Edmonton.
  • Mud, The – The Whitemud freeway on the city’s south side.
  • National Inquirer, The – Another name for Edmonton’s tabloid-esque daily, The Edmonton Sun.
  • New City – New City Suburbs bar on Jasper Avenue. (Nicole Pakan)
  • North Side – North of the North Saskatchewan River, east of Groat Road.
  • Nunt – A nun’s cunt. Could also be used with the “As cold as…” saying. (Mingus Tourette)
  • Oil, The – The Edmonton Oilers hockey club.
  • Old Scona, Old Strathcona – Presently refers to Edmonton’s “historic district” reaching from 76 Avenue to 88 Avenue and 99 Street to 109 Street (roughly). Whyte Avenue (82 Avenue) cuts through the heart of this neighborhood. Strathcona was a separate town before it was annexed by Edmonton 1907. “Old Strathcona” is somewhat synonymous with “Whyte Avenue,” although the two terms have distinct connotations.
  • Park, The – Sherwood Park. A suburb situated on Edmonton’s eastern border.
  • Pronger – To leave or abandon someone or something, especially after something good happens. (i.e. “Yeah, I slept with her last night, but in the morning I Prongered.”) Named after Oiler defenseman Chris Pronger, who led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals in 2006 and then promptly requested a trade (and got it).
  • Pue and Pee – Alternate names for Edmonton’s two weeklies, Vue Weekly and See Magazine.
  • Purple City – An 80’s holdout. When visiting The Leg, one stared into the orange sodium floodlights for a few minutes and then viewed the city skyline. The city lights then appeared purple.
  • Pyramids, The – The Muttart Conservatory – a group of glass pyramids located in The Valley.
  • Rathole, The – The old 109th Street Tunnel, a notorious and dangerously narrow tunnel that went under 104A street. Long ago supplanted by a safer surface route.
  • RVB – The neighbourhood of Riverbend (see also The Bend) (Matthew Whitman, Nov 08)
  • QE2 – Queen Elizabeth II Highway. Formerly known as Highway 2. Leads to Calgary.
  • SEC – South Edmonton Common shopping center.
  • Shaw, The – The Shaw Conference Center, located on Jasper Avenue and 97th Street. (Nicole Pakan)
  • Sherwood Forest – Another name for Sherwood Park.
  • South Side – Generally refers to areas south of the North Saskatchewan River; sometimes, by elitist residents, used to denote south of 82nd (Whyte) Avenue.
  • Square, The – Sir Winston Churchill Square, located in the heart of Edmonton.
  • St. Joes – Can refer to either St. Joseph’s Basilica (Edmonton’s finest church), or to St. Joseph’s High School.
  • Stony – Stony Plain, a small city West of Edmonton.
  • Strat, The (or The Strath) – Refers to the Strathcona Hotel in a general sense, more accurately to the grungy beer parlor located there.
  • TBHBB – (pronounced “t-b-h-double-b”) Typical Bubble-Headed Bleach Blonde. Largely fallen out of use but was once used extensively.
  • Trail, The – generally refers to Calgary Trail, which turns into the QE2 and leads south to Calgary. Could also mean St. Albert Trail (Highway 2 North) depending on your location.
  • U, The – The U of A Campus.
  • Valley, The – Edmonton’s spectacular river valley.
  • Waterfall, The – The artificial waterfall that flows off the High Level Bridge in summer months.
  • WEM – Pronounced as it is spelled (“wem”, one word). West Edmonton Mall.
  • West End – North of the River, West of Groat Road.
  • Wet Bag of Assholes, A – Bad connotation, i.e. “I feel like a wet bag of assholes.” (Stuart Gravel)
  • Whyte – Refers to Whyte Avenue, also known as 82nd Avenue. The cultural and historical center of Edmonton.

Can you think of any more?

Vignette #137

7 reader comments (closed)

1

Nicole Pakan

The Dog—the Black Dog pub on Whyte Avenue.

New City—New City Suburbs bar on Jasper Avenue.

Eaton’s Centre—Now Edmonton City Centre.

The Shaw—Shaw Conference Centre.

K-Days—another term for Klondike days.

Nov 29, 2006 • 17:19

2

Nolan

“Mill Hood” for Mill Woods, owing to its reputation for gang activity. Also “Ill Woods”, thanks to a prank where someone covered up the “M” on the sign by the Mill Woods golf course.

“City of Champions” originally referred to our resilience in the wake of the 1987 tornado and was coined by our then-Mayor.

Nov 30, 2006 • 08:26

3

Gravel

Thanks for the comments. I’ll incorporate these into the main body of the post.

Nov 30, 2006 • 09:34

4

Nathan

To follow up Nolan’s suggestion: “Kill Woods” rhymes with a certain neighbourhood with an ill-repute and it is oh-so-clever.

Nov 30, 2006 • 17:59

5

Michael

The Drug Store – A nickname for Rexall Place (formerly Northlands Coliseum).

I find that sportscasters use this nickname more than anybody else. It’s similar to how Vancouver’s GM Place gets referred to as The Garage.

Dec 05, 2006 • 10:16

6

ink slinger

I grew up in and around Kingsway, and I still frequent the place, and I’ve never once heard the term K-Wing. I suppose this supports the idea that it’s a rarely used term.

Other than that, I have to say that this is a damn fine list, and I’ve used the majority of these terms at least once in my years in ol’ E-town.

Dec 06, 2006 • 20:23

7

Gravel

@Ink: I remember hearing K-Wing alot when I was a kid. I don’t know. Maybe it was just a thing between a few people. Very rarely used, I guess.

Dec 07, 2006 • 10:52

Bus Window, Nov 06

Bus Window, Nov 06

 • 


About

StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

Read the complete story

Recent Vignettes

Podcast Episodes

The City

The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?

More about Edmonton