A CFA’s Guide to Newfoundland Sayings
I’m always reminded after spending some time off the island, hanging out with mainland folks that, even though I wasn’t born and raised in Newfoundland, I sometimes still talk like I was. I don’t have the accent – I prefer to call mine “Generic Maritime” – but I’ve picked up a lot of Newfoundland sayings and slang from my parents and my almost dozen years of living in St. John’s.
Phrases like “I’m rotted with the weather. It’s some cold out, wha?” or “I’m after squatting my finger in the door” make perfect sense to me but left some of my fellow WITS attendees scratching their heads.
One of the things I love about my current home and parents’ homeland is the language. It might sound a little like the Irish, but it’s really its own unique thing. We even have our own dictionary! We love taking existing words and using them in a completely different way. Or we make up our own to suit our needs.
First up, reading the title of this post, you’re probably thinking “What the hell’s a CFA?” In short, unless you’re from Newfoundland, it’s you. CFA stands for Come From Away and it refers to all non-Newfoundlanders.
I think everyone should come visit Newfoundland so I put together a little guide of a few common slang terms and phrases to help you out when you come see us. Now, you don’t have to go using them yourself but this should help you understand us locals during your time here. ;)
- Come From Away. Someone who isn’t from Newfoundland.
- Example: “George Street is full of CFAs tonight.”
- Though originally a short form of ‘boy’ it’s actually gender neutral and isn’t interchangeable with ‘boy’. It adds emphasis to a phrase.
- Example: “Yes, b’y”, “Go on, b’y”
- Some / Right
- Used similar to ‘very’. On a scale, right is more than some.
- Example: “It’s some cold out.” or “She’s right pretty.”
- we sometimes use this word instead of ‘have’ to mean in the past.
- Example: “I’m after buying the wrong lightbulb.” instead of “I’ve bought the wrong lightbulb.”
- similar to the Canadian “eh?” We throw it in to make sure that you’re paying attention.
- Example: “It’s some sunny out, wha?”
- we apparently have a complex or something about people not listening to us. This one roughly means “Look!”
- Example: “Luh. Missus over there’s wearing leggings as pants.”
- Buddy and Missus
- What you call someone when you don’t know their name. Missus can also refer to your female better half.
- Example: “Buddy on the corner.” “Missus, get me a beer from the fridge.”
- Annoyed. Pissed off.
- Example: “It’s snowing in April. I’m rotted.”
- cranky, grouchy
- Example: “You’re right crooked today. Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?”
- Damp and warm. Muggy.
- Example: “It’s a mauzy old day out there today.”
- Musty, off-smelling
- Example: “I left dirty laundry in a plastic bag and now it’s fousty.”
- Busy, crowded, packed.
- Example: “We went to the bar, but it was blocked. There was a line-up to get in.”
- Squished, smashed.
- Example: “I stepped on a spider and squat it.”
- Temporary lack of intelligence, dumb.
- Example: “Buddy’s some stunned. He left his car running with the keys locked in it.”
- Scared, terrified.
- Example: “When I saw the moose charging at me I was shitbaked.”
- Ass – it just sounds nicer when we say it.
- Example: “Look at the arse on d’at!”
- You say “white trash” we say “skeet”. Aggressive, uneducated, unruly people usually associated with loitering and petty crimes.
- Example: “Some skeet held up Marie’s Mini Mart again last night.”
- Example: “I’m stogged. I couldn’t possibly eat any more.”
- A scoundrel, a rascal
- Example: “Get out of here you little sleeveen. You’re after stealing my lunch.”
- A Time
- Funny, happy, social setting
- Example: “Man, we had a time last night.” | “It was quite a time at Joe’s this weekend.”
- Reverse: No so much a time. Something that wasn’t very much fun.
- Not Fit
- Exceptionally bad
- Example: “It’s not fit out today so it’s the perfect time for a Netflix binge.”
- A thing which you may or may not know the proper word for. Along the lines of thingamajig, whatsit, or doodad
- Example: “Pass me that chummy would ‘ya?”
- An unkept person. A bit of a mess.
- “You’re not leaving the house like that are you? You look like a streel.”
- A loud noise. A commotion.
- “Someone’s making a racket out there.”
Newfoundland Sayings and Expressions
- How ya gettin’ on?
- How’s it going?
- Knows ya can’t go.
- You’ve got some energy.
- Get on the go.
- To get going or to have a good time.
- Get on the beer.
- You’re not literally sitting on a case of beer. But you are going drinking…a lot.
- The arse is gone out of ‘er.
- It’s all gone to hell.
- Be there the once.
- Be right there. We use “the once” to mean right away, soon.
- Go on in out of it.
- Remove yourself from the situation.
- Alternate: Go home out of it.
- Whatta y’at?
- What are you doing? How’re you doing? What’s up? A proper response might be “Nuttin’ b’y.” or “This is it.
- Who knit you?
- Where are you from? Who are your parents? Usually uttered after you’ve done something foolish.
- Best kind
- Good. Satisfied.
- “How ya getting’ on, b’y?” “Best kind.”
- “We’ve got cod for supper tonight. Is that alright?” “Yes, best kind.”
- I dies at you.
- I think you’re exceptionally funny.
Another little tip for your first visit to Newfoundland, don’t be alarmed if someone working in a store or restaurant calls you ‘sweetheart’, ‘my love’, or even ‘me duckie’ – they’re not coming on to you…it’s just a thing we say.
The few words and phrases I listed out here are pretty common ones but they’re really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Have you heard any others that stood out to you as being particularly Newfoundland? I’d love to hear them.
What’s your favourite Newfoundland saying or word?
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May 8th, 2015 at 9:34 am (#)
Tips are good enough.
May 8th, 2015 at 9:43 am (#)
Good tips. Thanks.
May 8th, 2015 at 9:59 pm (#)
Where ya to?
May 9th, 2015 at 12:16 pm (#)
Stay where ya to ’till I comes where y’at. ;)
May 9th, 2015 at 10:08 am (#)
When I was growing up in St John’s in the 50s and 60s (and boy does that make me feel old), playing I Declare War or Hide&Seek, we called the safe place “goulos” (well, that’s how I spelled it to myself). Imagine my surprise when I discovered in my 20s that other folk had the utterly boring “safe” or “home”. Imagine my puzzlement when I discovered in my 30s that my students at MUN had never heard the word … it had been displaced by “safe” or “home” by mass media. So there’s mine: “goulos” (spelled like The Goulds). You can find it in the dictionary of Newfoundland English, where it’s identified as non-urban. Not in my childhood.
May 9th, 2015 at 12:17 pm (#)
Interesting! I’d never actually heard of “goulos” either. I love learning about new slang across the island.
May 9th, 2015 at 6:59 pm (#)
“Blocked”- can also mean, “full”.
Ex: “Oh my God, I’m blocked. Stuffed to the gills!”.
October 13th, 2017 at 3:50 pm (#)
Stog er blocked …. means to fill the wood stove to capacity with wood…. hence stogged is stuffed
May 14th, 2015 at 2:23 pm (#)
I grew up in the West End of St . John’s (born 1962) and we always used the word ” goulos”. I too was totally amazed to discover that people thought the term strange.
May 26th, 2015 at 11:58 am (#)
I grew up in the centre city and we always used the term goulos while playing tag or any other game.
May 9th, 2015 at 5:49 pm (#)
Blocked can also be used to say you are full or have over eaten. “What a deadly scoff, I’m blocked” or another saying with the same meaning is “I’m blocked to the (da) gills”.
May 14th, 2015 at 1:41 pm (#)
‘scoff’! I forgot to add scoff to the list. :)
May 17th, 2015 at 12:23 am (#)
Lets not forget the ever popular “Stogged”
As in “What a feed of Ches’s. I absolutely stogged!”
May 19th, 2015 at 11:39 am (#)
Wonder if that’s where Stoggers the pizza place got their name? ;)
May 27th, 2015 at 7:52 am (#)
Also “chinched” for being full. “Would you like another touton?” “No thanks, me love, I’m chinched “
May 10th, 2015 at 11:22 am (#)
After a scoff I’m full as an egg.
May 14th, 2015 at 12:22 pm (#)
Haha – I’ve definitely heard this one before but I still don’t understand how an egg is full. :P
May 15th, 2015 at 1:43 pm (#)
A good, new egg has a TINY bit of an air bubble in it, but for the most part, she’s blocked solid :)
May 19th, 2015 at 11:39 am (#)
Well I guess that makes sense then. :)
May 10th, 2015 at 12:12 pm (#)
I am from bermuda and now married to a newfoundlander when we first started talking on the phone I was telling her a story and after finishing it she used the phrase “go on” and to me it meant it was time to end the call but what she really meant was “really ?”
May 19th, 2015 at 11:39 am (#)
I guess that’s pretty similar to “Get out” when exclaiming disbelief.
May 27th, 2015 at 7:49 pm (#)
More commonly (in my neck of the island, anyway) is “go way” or “go way, by” instead of go on or get out.
September 29th, 2017 at 1:10 am (#)
Another similar sounding saying is “what ya gettin on wit” which means I think what you are telling me is a bit foolish or not understandable or believable.
May 8th, 2018 at 6:11 pm (#)
I’ve even said, “go on wit ‘ya”
May 7th, 2018 at 11:15 am (#)
I’ve often heard the phrase, “go on wit ya” after being told something shocking, titillating or gossipy. I grew up in NL, but ‘out around da bay’. :)
May 10th, 2015 at 5:14 pm (#)
In St. John’s when we moved there in the early 60s, they used “hobble” to mean any little job you got paid for, such as shovelling snow or working on a farm part-time. Also used as a verb–to go “hobblin'” after a big snowfall–looking for a “hobble”. It comes from the Irish word for work.
May 15th, 2015 at 1:45 pm (#)
We still use that :) A guy at my work is trying to get his kids to find little hobbles for the summer, and my husband finds little hobbles around the house all the time :)
We are only in our early 30’s.
It’s a great word!
May 19th, 2015 at 11:40 am (#)
I’m totally co-opting “hobble”. Loves it.
May 10th, 2015 at 8:15 pm (#)
“What’s it giving out for?” refers to the weather forecast. If there is snow coming it’s giving out for snow.
May 19th, 2015 at 11:49 am (#)
I’m actually not sure if I would’ve known this one. Depending on the context of the conversation I may have known what was going on though.
May 13th, 2015 at 8:30 am (#)
Dunch: originally used to describe bread that didn’t rise enough before/during baking and felt heavy…also used in this fashion: “Me arse is dunch”… meaning you have been sitting for too long!
Chinched/Stogged: filling in a seam (between planks of wood) or stuffing/sealing up a hole….also used in this fashion: “I’m chinched!!”…meaning I ate too much!
Gommel: I don’t know whether this has any other meaning other than “idiot”…used by my Mother if we did something stupid… “can’t believe ya did that…ya gommel!”
May 14th, 2015 at 1:42 pm (#)
I think I’ve heard gommel used before. Could you say “ya saucy gommel”? or does that not make sense?
May 14th, 2015 at 7:43 pm (#)
Definitely heard gommel from my father and his family. Usually meaning uneducated.
May 15th, 2015 at 1:47 pm (#)
Stogged, we def say stogged for a tight fit / too full.
The wood stove can be stogged too. “Jaysus mudder ya got da woodstove stogged do ya? I’m roasted”
Yeah I feel like a gommel was a step up from saying you were a stund-arse. You have hope left. hahaha
January 29th, 2018 at 1:12 pm (#)
Dunch: My mother taught me the first one (heavy/doughy dumplings), my father the second one!
May 13th, 2015 at 9:56 am (#)
“Seein’ ‘s who ya are” translate to:
Seeing as you are who you are, which is to say a friend, I will grant your request.
September 29th, 2017 at 1:19 am (#)
As I grew up hearing it and using it it means similar to your description but more like – you are important to me or this situation so I will do as you request. The person it is said to does not necessarily have to be a friend.
May 13th, 2015 at 8:33 pm (#)
Nice guide !
May 19th, 2015 at 11:50 am (#)
September 29th, 2017 at 1:25 am (#)
eh B’y! … meaning I agree with you Vanessa. If two women were discussing one might say to the other “Yes maid” . Eh B’y can also be used in reverse as in I am seeking your agreement to what I’m saying, eh B’y?
May 13th, 2015 at 11:33 pm (#)
Yaney- it means disagreeable, said to me by my babysitter ,” Your children were right yaney today”
May 19th, 2015 at 11:51 am (#)
Could that be the same or similar as yangy? Kind of whiney.
May 13th, 2015 at 11:57 pm (#)
What about the CBFAs? Born in NL, they’ve left, returned, and are now “Come-Back-From-Aways.” Not looked upon so kindly…I mean, why’d ya leave at all?
May 14th, 2015 at 11:52 am (#)
Wow, so many of these I use daily and never realized they were specific to Newfoundland.
May 19th, 2015 at 11:52 am (#)
I know what you mean. I’m fully aware that some of them are very unique to NL but others like “squat” or “crooked” I just took for granted.
May 14th, 2015 at 11:52 am (#)
1. “I dies at you”, meaning you are very funny
2. “Out ‘gin door”, meaning outside and “sing out”, meaning yell ex: If someone calls for me sing out, I’ll be out ‘gin door chopping wood.
3. “gurnsey”, meaning a tightly woven wool sweater
4. “Long may your big jib draw”, a jib is a sail and to draw it up would help to make your ship go fast and finish your journey. The saying means I hope you fare well or are prosperous in your endeavor.
May 14th, 2015 at 12:39 pm (#)
Hi, loved your story. BUT….why is it wrong to call us Newfies?? Love it when you meet a new co worker and they ask if I am a Newfie. Right off, the ice is broken and laughter starts!!
May 14th, 2015 at 12:43 pm (#)
Some Newfoundlanders (like my dad) embrace the term but for others (like Great Big Sea), it has the “stupid Newfie” connotation attached to it. As I said, it alls depends on who’s saying it and in what context, but you’ll never offend by asking “Are you from Newfoundland?” or “Are you a Newfoundlander?” instead.
May 14th, 2015 at 1:31 pm (#)
Right I don’t understand why people who right theses articles always add that Newfie is offensive makes me think are theses people Newfie who are writing the cause I love being called Newfie ya darn straight!
May 14th, 2015 at 1:39 pm (#)
I put it in there because I know plenty of people here who *are* offended by the term after a generation or two of “stupid Newfie” jokes and people from away using the term in a derogatory way. Some people, like my Dad, embrace the term and that’s cool. More power to you.
But if you weren’t from here and were visiting for the first time, why would you want to risk offending someone?
May 15th, 2015 at 1:51 pm (#)
Exactly, there are those that are and those that aren’t.
The warning stands as just that, a warning.
Usually the older generations who remember the origin of the word don’t like it. Young crowd don’t seem to mind as they don’t have the same memories / connotations.
I’m in the middle, and for me it is greatly dependant on context and tone. I wouldn’t risk a similar term if I were travelling somewhere.
June 2nd, 2015 at 10:59 pm (#)
I am one of those who am deeply offended by the word. It makes me cringe every time I hear it. Travelling across the country for work over the years I have had many experiences where it was used to put us Newfoundlanders in our place.
May 22nd, 2015 at 2:44 am (#)
From what I learned in sociology Newfie was a derogatory term used to insult Newfoundlanders. So I can see why people get offended.
May 29th, 2015 at 10:36 pm (#)
Well I hate it. I don’t even like for Newfoundlanders to call me a Newf or a Newfie . The term was coined by American military personnel as a slur against us ‘stupid newfies ‘.
May 25th, 2015 at 7:03 pm (#)
I was told that the derogatory term “Newfies” actually started back during war time when Americans would come into Argentia. If we did something that the Americans deemed stupid, that’s what they would say “Stupid Newfies”. so guess people of that generation would not want to be called Newfie for this reason. Perhaps stuck through generations.
May 14th, 2015 at 12:59 pm (#)
Squish – crooked. That picture is some squish.
May 14th, 2015 at 1:29 pm (#)
People who right these articles always seem to add how Newfie is offensive! Like hell it is, them people who are must be touched or are embarrassed of their Newfoundland roots I’m happy when some one called me Newfie cause I am den!
May 14th, 2015 at 1:31 pm (#)
As I said, some people embrace the term, but others are offended so if you’re visiting NL for the first time, why run the risk of offending? After a generation or two of “stupid Newfie” comments and jokes, I get why some don’t like the term when it come from a mainlander.
May 14th, 2015 at 10:21 pm (#)
Never mind maid, she can’t get it through her noggin! Flankers…..embers, as….”Careful of the flankers coming from that fire! You might get burned, ya stun arse!”
May 22nd, 2017 at 1:50 pm (#)
As a CFA, but living here for 30 some years, this is my take on the term. If a Nflder calls another a newfie, or uses the word himself, it’s not meant as derogatory. But if someone from outside does, it is. Something like a black man may call another a “n”, but another race most certainly cannot.
May 14th, 2015 at 10:12 pm (#)
whatta got in yer mouth me ol cock
May 14th, 2015 at 10:16 pm (#)
You don’t know no buddy dat wants nutting done do ya?
September 29th, 2017 at 1:37 am (#)
I could use one of dem der new thingamajiggers Devon.
I have an aunt that speaks like that. Thingamajiggers = that thing I can’t recall the proper name of at the moment. Similar is tumiejiggers
May 15th, 2015 at 1:18 am (#)
“Blowed up like a gurnet” or something that has swelled up/gotten bigger.
“Tough as a gad” meaning very tough…
May 19th, 2015 at 11:54 am (#)
I’ve definitely heard my dad use “tough as a gad” when referring to overcooked steak. ;)
May 15th, 2015 at 1:36 pm (#)
Twack; it’s like window shopping or poking around in the shops.
” I’m goin’ up to da mall for a twack.”
“I was just twacking about downtown St. John’s”
May 15th, 2015 at 1:47 pm (#)
I’m originally from Twillingate and we have some of our own slangs!! One in particular is skint. That’ s a skint gert house there! Meaning the house is big!!
May 15th, 2015 at 11:26 pm (#)
For you who don’t know, the word Newfie was first used by Americans during the second world war, ‘stupid Newfies’. It’s another ‘N’ word that needs to disappear.
May 16th, 2015 at 10:39 am (#)
It’s not “stunned”, it’s “stund”.
May 16th, 2015 at 2:41 pm (#)
My mom always said, “Ya’ can’t see yer arse for steam”.
Meaning: it’s very foggy out today.
May 16th, 2015 at 9:20 pm (#)
As an Aussie currently wandering around Newfoundland I love this as there are a surprising number of common/similar terms which are probably indicative of our common Irish/Scottish/Cockney backgrounds.
“Scoff – in Oz it means to eat everything too quickly as in “I scoffed it down and am now as full as a goog” (Australian for egg).
She’s “right pretty” is dying out but “He’s crooked on him” means “he’s cranky about him.
Arse – same as in Oz. Much better than the American ass.
Other bits of slang that are common are:
Seein’s who ya are
Go on (with ya)
But in Oz, skint means broke (no money).
And I am starting to get used to being called “my love” – even by other blokes as happened in a café today!
The great thing about Newfoundland slang is that it is seems to be still fairly common whereas in Oz we are becoming much more Hollywoodised, hence ass for arse.
Finally, my wife and I love this place. I just wish I could understand everything that is said to me!
May 19th, 2015 at 11:56 am (#)
“Scoff” here also means a big feed, typically jigs dinner but could be any large meal. If you’re doing to a dinner and a dance it might be referred to as a “scoff ‘n a scuff”.
September 29th, 2017 at 1:48 am (#)
how about calling you “me duckie” or me duck, similar to “me buddy” or “me love” or “me ole cock”
here are a few more many may not heard before.
Bumbly – rounded and hard to walk on like Bumbly rock (round rocks near a shore or river bank
Shanks Mare – use you legs and walk or run
Slobery – messy or difficult such as thick but soft chunks of ice in the ocean “slobery ice”
jumpin dins – I can’t believe it or wow, or I am shocked
May 20th, 2015 at 1:45 am (#)
I use the word “some” in so much of my every day language, it confuses a lot of people. Especially now that I live in the USA. I also say “where’s that to?” a lot. Then I have to re-word it because people don’t understand lol.
May 22nd, 2015 at 10:12 am (#)
What about ” Some sook arse you is ! ”
I’ve noticed that being ” Sookie ” Or a ” Sook ” is pretty limited to Newfoundland diction .
May 27th, 2015 at 1:03 am (#)
In alberta they say “suck” for sook. I don’t know how many arguments I’ve gotten into over that.
May 27th, 2015 at 6:16 pm (#)
I lived in Alberta for 9 years and always thought it sounded so silly when hearing someone being called a suck lol! Guess it just depends on what you’re used to hearing :)
December 25th, 2016 at 8:44 pm (#)
I’m from town (st johns) we sometimes call people a suck arse lol I guess to be compared to a teachers pet.
May 24th, 2015 at 9:50 am (#)
If we were sitting too long we would say our backsides were dunch.
May 24th, 2015 at 5:38 pm (#)
‘Ow’s dat now?! by Rob LeDrew
Here ya go !!!
May 24th, 2015 at 7:22 pm (#)
I learned the term ‘handy’ shortly after I moved here….as in ‘did you get up close to it?’ Also ‘pip off’ – I think that’s a Newfoundland saying!
September 29th, 2017 at 1:54 am (#)
“on the pip, pipping off or skip or skipping off” are used to say you are missing classes in school with out permission when you should be there
May 24th, 2015 at 9:07 pm (#)
Can’t forget the word ‘Satched’. Meaning Soaking wet.
‘I was out on the rain and now I’m satched’
May 25th, 2015 at 11:40 pm (#)
spot me a ” fin ” will ya, meaning loan me $5.00
May 26th, 2015 at 10:30 am (#)
My mother would often say: I’ve got some fisik (don’t know how it would be spelled) meaning having a bad cold.
May 26th, 2015 at 9:12 pm (#)
When I wanted a ride home, my father would say; “shanksmere it” meaning walk home.
September 29th, 2017 at 1:57 am (#)
yes my father would say the same. When I asked what it mean he would say use your legs and walk. He said it meant “shanks” are a term for one’s legs and a mare is a horse so use your legs like a horse would and walk or run. So for him I guess he would have spelled it Shanks Mare.
May 26th, 2015 at 9:53 pm (#)
Gut-foundered- very hungry
“By’s I’m gut foundered! Can’t wait to get a feed!”
May 27th, 2015 at 2:25 am (#)
My father was born in Trinity Bay and my mother in Notre Dame Bay….every bay has its own dialect ! It was difficult for me to recognize most becauseI was born and raised in Central Nl. My mother always called us children ‘skin flints’ if we were up to any kind of mischief and she would ‘skiver us up’ if she caught us in mischief again!
September 29th, 2017 at 2:01 am (#)
feed da waw? Fish or trout? lol
in Newfoundland folks fish means Cod, all other fish go by there name. Fish is Cod. Trout is a fish but Fish is Cod.
September 29th, 2017 at 2:03 am (#)
oops … their name sorry. Bad English on my part but my first language is Newfienese
May 27th, 2015 at 7:00 am (#)
How about “snarl”, meaning tangled, mess? Ex: what a snarl she got herself into last night!
September 29th, 2017 at 2:04 am (#)
yes and she’ some tangly make no wonder she got herself in a snarl.
May 27th, 2015 at 9:55 am (#)
What about “oh what a sin” or “that’s a sin” meaning I feel bad that unfortunate occurance happened to that person!!
Also “what a feed”, meaning a lot of good food!!!
September 29th, 2017 at 2:05 am (#)
tis all some shockin good b’y
May 27th, 2015 at 1:11 pm (#)
When I worked as a nurse at the General Hospital we always had foreign doctors.When they were asking their patients what symptoms they had ..one of the replies maybe …Doctor I have a wonderful pain…meaning a very bad pain..Another symptom might be Doctor I can’t gulch. Meaning I can’t swallow.It was hard for these doctors to make a proper diagnosis
Thank God for Newfoundland nurses…
May 27th, 2015 at 1:15 pm (#)
lol Love this one. I never thought about how hard it might be for CFA doctors in this province. :P
May 27th, 2015 at 3:52 pm (#)
I’m originally from Rushoon out on the burin peninsula. When I moved to carbonear for college I was shocked when I learned that people had never heard the term Pussle or Pussle guts. Pussle as we would use it means to drink something really fast. As in “my god, you got that beer gone some fast. Yer some pussle-gut.”
I got made fun of a lot for that. Lol
May 27th, 2015 at 4:58 pm (#)
I love this one – “Look at da face on ‘er, luh – she’s crooked as sin today”
Only a Newfoundlander would say a sentence like that. And only a Newfoundlander can make your mood a whole lot better, just by saying it to you. And by the way – if that sentence doesn’t bring a smile to your face – then there’s not much odds about ya – lol (said with a wink and a nod)
May 27th, 2015 at 7:03 pm (#)
I remember watching “Cold Water Cowboys” and one of the fisherman said his net was ripped from “arsehole to appetite”. That’s a saying my mother uses :) I understood exactly what he meant but the people who translate for the subtitles had no clue and put in question marks instead lol
May 27th, 2015 at 7:30 pm (#)
“Sook” is another great one. I know on the mainland (also should be on the list) they sometimes interchange “sook” with “suck” but Americans have no idea what a sook is.
May 27th, 2015 at 7:45 pm (#)
I grew up in St. John’s
We always gave the baby it’s “dummy” .People in Ontario always questioned me about that one.
Sorry Mainlanders , I’ll give the baby the pacifier or soother ….lol
May 27th, 2015 at 8:35 pm (#)
Living near Bonavista when I first heardthw word Startless I thought it was so funny. Great word! Means alot of things. Something can be startless which means there is nothing else quite like it!! Or a person can be startless…
May 27th, 2015 at 8:36 pm (#)
Living near Bonavista when I first heard the word Startless I thought it was so funny. Great word! Means alot of things. Something can be startless which means there is nothing else quite like it!! Or a person can be startless…
May 27th, 2015 at 11:17 pm (#)
I worked as a nurse in Twillingate. I had to translate for our foreign doctors on more than one occasion. I recall a particularly funny explanation from a patient describing his pain, “I feels it on up trew b’y”. Can you guess what he had? Yup – a urinary track infection…. right on up through! LOL
May 28th, 2015 at 12:33 am (#)
Great list! I’ve got a few to add!
The phrase “Best kind” comes to mind, meaning something or someone is awesome or doing well. “Nan’s doing best kind b’y!,” or “that’s best kind!”
Also, “hard case” meaning a hard ticket or troublemaker. “He’s a case,” or “he’s a hard case!”
RDF is an abbreviation for Rain, drizzle and fog common in these parts ☺️
May 28th, 2015 at 12:32 pm (#)
Can’t forget “satched,” “sook,” and “what a sin!”
My mother, born and raised in St. John’s, was fond of using the word “streel(/streal?)” to describe how disheveled and messy we looked, and “hairy paimy” (have no idea how to spell that one!) to tell us our hair (not the rest of us) was a mess.
My father, from Burgeo, never seemed to used those two terms.
May 28th, 2015 at 5:35 pm (#)
My mother described me as ‘looking like a streel’ for basically my entire childhood!
May 28th, 2015 at 1:45 pm (#)
“chinched to the gunnels” meaning full, or cannot fit anymore there.
Ex. “didnt think i was gonna eat all that, chinched fo the gunnels now,” or “cant put anything else in the pan b’y shes chinched to the gunnels”
May 28th, 2015 at 5:32 pm (#)
We also use “shift” alot in reference to a change. For example ” when ya drops off da youngsters, make sure they brings a shift of clothes in case they gets rotten. “
May 28th, 2015 at 5:32 pm (#)
‘Greasy’ for slippery or icy, ‘a run’ for a ride (co-worker out west was really confused when I said I’d give him a run home), ‘sleeveen’ for a sneak or someone up to no good, ‘back o’ beyond’ for middle of nowhere…
And I will count myself as one who’s on the young side but doesn’t like Newfie used by CFAs. When I hear it I tense slightly, waiting to see if it’ll be followed up by a denigrating joke or comment. Often it isn’t, but ‘oh, you’re a Newfie, are you?’ has been followed up by a snark about welfare or lack of education too frequently in my heating to disassociate ignorant views from the word.
May 28th, 2015 at 5:33 pm (#)
And of course I meant in my hearing, not in my heating.
May 28th, 2015 at 6:07 pm (#)
Ooh! I forgot ‘priming’ for drinking before you go to the bar and ‘dragged off with’ for ‘had a drunken one-night stand’ (latter may be specific to Memorial University…
May 29th, 2015 at 1:48 pm (#)
Calm seas often referred as “some cam da day b’y” or “cam as da oil” or “just like da bottle out dere”
May 29th, 2015 at 5:21 pm (#)
Loved reading through this post. One that we used a lot when I was growing up in St. John’s was “dout your fag” which translates to “put out your cigarette”. I’m not sure of the spelling of “dout”.
September 29th, 2017 at 2:11 am (#)
yes another use of it is “dout it out” meaning put the fire out.
May 31st, 2015 at 12:11 pm (#)
When I first arrived in St. John’s as Principal of a school a student asked, “Tip me lead. Fadder?” I had to ask my secretary for a translation: sharpen my pencil. Our maintenance man referred to his wife as “Me ol’ trout”. Two very Irish expressions were common: “between the jigs and the reels” (when all is said and done) and “different as chalk and cheese” (no translation needed). I always enjoyed “How’s she goin’, b’y?” and the appropriate response, “Wonderful grand!”. And “Proper t’ing” – that’s the way it should be. And ‘stunned as me arse” for really stupid. I could go on for days!
June 1st, 2015 at 3:52 pm (#)
Interesting web site and comments. However, the use of the word “slang” to describe Newfoundland English is equivalent to describing other aspects of Newfoundland heritage as “crap”. “Slang” is a pejorative term, but, more to the point, it is linguistically inaccurate. Traditional Newfoundland English has its historic origins in England’s West Country dialects and the Irish of the Waterford area of SE Ireland. It has a history older than Canada. If you believe that respect is due other aspects of Newfoundland heritage, at least give traditional Newfoundland English the respect due to it and avoid calling it “slang” or “lingo”.
June 1st, 2015 at 3:57 pm (#)
Guess I learned something new. I just used ‘slang’ in the dictionary definition sense.
“a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people.”
Given your angle though, I could rename this post “A CFA’s Guide to Newfoundland English”.
July 23rd, 2015 at 11:31 pm (#)
Working on the mainland, I discovered that the expression “to clue up” was completely foreign. When asked to clue up, my colleagues insisted that they all understood the information and didn’t need to be brought up to speed. They were quite puzzled when I explained that ‘clue up’ meant to tie up loose ends and move on to something else. There’s no Upper Canada equivalent as far as I know. (Totally against ‘Newfie’ moniker as well)
December 15th, 2015 at 8:44 pm (#)
I think the word is actually spelled “clew” and “to clew up” is actually a term for furling a sail. I guess it migrated for the ship to shore as it is quite common in my circle
September 4th, 2015 at 11:17 am (#)
WHO YA LONGS TO? MEANING WHO DO YOU BELONG TO? NOT SO POPULAR IN YOUNGER PEOPLE BUT ALL THE OLDER PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT FAMILY YOU CAME FROM, WHO’S YOUR DAD, YOUR MOM, GRANDPARENTS SO THEY CAN PLACE YOU… THIS POST IS FABULOUS! JUST LOVE IT AND THE CFAB MUST THINK THIS IS HILARIOUS! I DO NOT TAKE OFFENCE TO THE WORD NEWFIE AT ALL. MOST PLACES HAVE NICKNAMES I HAVE NO EGO AT ALL IN BEING CALLED A NEWFIE FROM NEWFOUNDLAND ATTACHING NO MEANING OTHER THAN A SHORTER VERSION OF THE NAME NEWFOUNDLAND AND A HUGE COMPLIMENT MEANING A WARM AND FUNNY AND GENEROUS PERSON! WE ARE RENOWNED WORLDWIDE FOR THESE ATTRIBUTES SO WHY NOT LOOK AT THE POSITIVE SIDE OF BEING CALLED “A NEWFIE” ! I DO!
September 12th, 2015 at 11:29 pm (#)
When I was home this summer, St. John’s, I found it hard to hear the lilt of our language. Missing also, many if our lovely, unique phrases. Except I was asked if I come from away. This did annoy me a little. I found the younger people and those working with the public spoke more Canadian. Albeit I returned with a light lilt revived from my own recesses. It seems Newfoundlanders, young and a generation before rather be called Newfoundlanders along with the sea of green white and pink flags to rant, we’re tired of being looked on as less than and we’re fighting as true Newfoundlanders. I now echo the same as someone who had later issues in life, part of which listening to the stupid jokes and snickers, oh you’re a Newfie. But you don’t act like one. What the fook does this mean? Wha! I’m proud and lucky, I am a true Newfoundlander. I can’t see being anyone else. Stick dat in your craw mainlanders. Good day, now. lol
March 11th, 2016 at 9:37 am (#)
It’s pecking outside.
It’s starting to rain.
March 11th, 2016 at 9:38 am (#)
It’s pecking out.
It’s starting to rain.
April 10th, 2016 at 11:40 am (#)
As a born mainlander, I at first found it very hard to take it all in when I moved here in November of 2015 but I’ve been learning very quickly lol. One that still confuses me, as there are many different meanings it seems, is “you’re not fit b’y”
Some say it’s that you’re bad, some say on the piss and too hammered…. So I think that one is tough but I loved this article it helped me a lot!!! Even living here I sometimes have to look up or ask what things mean and it makes ya feel the fool for sure at times. But I’m learning! ☺️
April 10th, 2016 at 1:19 pm (#)
Ha. “You’re not fit.” generally just means “you’re not right/ok.” Like, to say something’s not fit, means it’s not good. “The weather’s not fit today, wha?”
September 29th, 2017 at 2:19 am (#)
depends on how it is said/context. If someone told a funny but perhaps dirty or offensive to some people joke one might laugh and reply “yer not fit b’y” If someone said something disgusting or offensive to everyone, one might reply in anger “yer not fit!”
June 19th, 2016 at 9:32 am (#)
Humpty = ottoman
June 25th, 2016 at 11:53 pm (#)
Well if your in Alberta, doesn’t matter where you come from on the east coast we are all Newfies to them. They talk about the states not knowing what’s above them, well Alberta doesn’t know that there is anything past Ontario.
July 17th, 2016 at 9:47 pm (#)
My Dad was Air Force and we were stationed in Gander in the early 60’s.
It was quite an eye opener! The saying I liked was….stay where you’re at and I”ll come where you’re to.
I found out that my grandfather was from Cornerbrook but I was still considered a CFA
September 21st, 2016 at 11:05 pm (#)
Squat means squished and squish means crooked and crooked means contrary. I can see why some CFAs can’t get it all straightened out!
October 7th, 2016 at 10:52 am (#)
I’m a CFA and recently heard a Newfoundlander describe his beer as “rain-gee.” Does anyone know what that means?
April 23rd, 2017 at 3:20 am (#)
Verb: to scoat…. it means to strain when pooping… yup, that’s what is said in Bonavista Bay….poor ting is “scoatin” some hard…? Cause she is constipated!
September 29th, 2017 at 2:41 am (#)
Gert … meaning very … “with a gert big stick I’ll knock him down.
I’m poisoned … meaning I am angry at you or about something, I’m rotted has same meaning
ya got some face on ya … or ya got some puss on ya … meaning why do you look so sad or angry or disgusted.
I dies at you … meaning you make me laugh/happy
dem der … meaning those things
daes – meaning they “daes ave ta be da best fish I ever ad yes sirie. I shit ya not” translation they have to be the best fish I have every had, with out a doubt and I am not lying to you. haha hmmm maybe I am missing Newfoundland after moving away.
October 10th, 2017 at 11:24 pm (#)
I CFA and i get a kick out of ” arse foremost.” Pretty sure it’s like backasswards or better yet backarsewards. Here in Saskatoon there are a few who tell “Newfie” jokes. Please ignore them. They are idiots.
October 20th, 2017 at 2:34 pm (#)
When Iwas a young girl growing up in Pouch Cove, We played cobbies every spring. We would go door to door asking if people had any cobbies(old or cracked dishes ).
If they did, they would give them to us. when we had collected enough, we would bring them back to our
cobby house witch Was usually a little shack we had built.
We played house with them until the boys would come and break them to make us mad.
Special cobbies like teapots were prized and we often traded our best cobbies with each other.
December 1st, 2017 at 2:19 pm (#)
Question…my wife’s step-father fought in WWII in the Newfoundland Navy in the Atlantic. He had a great saying, but I can’t find it anywhere, or anyone who can confirm where it came from…and forgive my spelling…I’m from ON!
“Ayse right, oilskins tight, arseholes to the mast!”
December 17th, 2017 at 11:24 am (#)
Fyi- being called newfie isn’t offensive, 95% of newfoundlanders are PROUD TO BE NEWFIE!!
December 17th, 2017 at 11:26 am (#)
Sure, some don’t mind but a good number of us do mind the term when it’s used in the wrong way. For too long it’s been associated with “goofy newfie” as a way for mainlanders to belittle us. So just be careful who you use it with.
January 9th, 2018 at 5:32 pm (#)
I’m a Nfldr in my 30s. Growing up in SJ, Newfie was considered 100% derogatory & never used. This was because the adults had to deal with people from away & experienced much discrimination. As a kid, I personally was on the receiving end of Newfie jokes when ppl out west found out where I was from.
The only time any Nfldr used it around me growing up was when we were in rural Nfld where they had little contact with ppl from away.
I don’t like the term Newfie. It has negative associations for me personally. However, I’ll tolerate it from another Nfldr, not an outsider. The term “Newf” offends me even more & I don;t like it from anyone.
January 13th, 2018 at 8:54 pm (#)
I absolutely loved this article. I have been married to a Newfoundlander for 20+ years. Tonight, he used the word “fousty” and none of knew what it meant – me and our two kids (12 and 17). I searched online and found your article. It made everyone laugh! My husband often says “you poor old trout.” We live in Indiana. He returns home a few times a year and is always full of the phrases when he returns. “Come in for a cup of tea, my love.” Great reading. Thanks.
February 9th, 2018 at 12:54 am (#)
I have always loved the way you guys say stuff. I love Nfldrs! I think you have the best sense of humour in the whole world. I always did even though I hardly knew anyone from there. Then I met a guy from Main Point. The word “Newfie” didn’t offend him at all nor anyone I met through him. He even named our Lab “Newf” We met in ON then moved to Ft Mac and I was there 7 years. Being with him for the first 5 of those 7 years, I actually picked it up so well that people would ask me what part of Nfld I was from. Hahah and I was honoured!! It wasn’t till I moved back to ON that I learned that I didn’t speak Ontarian anymore. As much as I understand why people are offended, whenever I personally said Newfies, my context was out of love for you and your culture ♥️ Here are some of my faves:
* tanks b’y – thank you
* you took da side right outta da house – when you have a big yawn
* luh – look
* heggs – eggs
* I about bust – I laughed really hard
* the heat’s up on bust – the heat is as high as can go
* the radio’s up on bust – music is very loud
Sigh! I miss interacting with and hearing you talk on a daily basis xoxo
April 9th, 2018 at 9:54 pm (#)
Don’t know when or understand why the term Newfie is offensive, even to some. Seems to me that those who are offended by that term may be ashamed to be Newfies! Real Newfoundlanders are not offended by Newfies!
May 8th, 2018 at 7:00 pm (#)
Dampers on a stove, meaning the stove element. “Turn on da damper, I boils da kettle.”
Another one we would say is vamps, meaning boot liners. I don’t know where that originates from, but I never knew they were liners until I told my Mainland friend to haul the vamps out of his boots so they could dry. He brought up solid, haha!
June 25th, 2018 at 1:49 pm (#)
Damper comes from the historic “5 parts of da stove”
Lifter, Leg, Poker, Hole and Damper
This was always said very fast as my dad always loved saying it. Other notable sayings from him are
“don’t know nobody, dat don’t want noddin done, do ya?”
“Hes no good, Id rather have a stick dan to have he”
“how ya spose to do are ting when you got nar ting to do are ting wit”
And the classic
“BY DA LARD LAMPLIGHTEN, DYING MOSES REAVEN”
hope you enjoyed this and if your a mainlander please please please practice this a lot before you try to say these back to a real newfie as the might look at you like your snapped right off by.
July 24th, 2018 at 11:26 am (#)
I actually just returned from Newfoundland and upon arrival asked several of the locals if Newfie was not a nickname they liked. I was told that it was perfectly acceptable and heard it used by locals time and time again. Just sayin’… ;)
July 24th, 2018 at 12:06 pm (#)
Yes, you’ll find plenty who have no problem with and and you’ll also find a group who consider it to be a derogatory term that harkens back to “Newfie jokes” and stereotypes. Why risk offending locals just because you personally like it?
August 18th, 2018 at 12:33 am (#)
Chink – “me mudder” (all her family from Stephenville – or Kippens, actually – and me born there) would talk of chinking the windows in winter. Didn’t think anything of it really being a NL thing since we kids grew up in the states, but “Lukey’s Boat” was “chinked with putty…” Ah-ha, me b’y!
September 11th, 2018 at 8:16 pm (#)
I loved my time in Newfoundland. Being a Navy man, I have borrowed some nautical phrase. My favourite is: Long may your big jib draw! A great farewell to crewmates posting away. Seeing the phrase: “Full as an egg” here reminded me of my childhood in Australia where my mother would say: “Full as a goo!”, having the same meaning.
September 14th, 2018 at 7:04 am (#)
Newfie girl in Alberta here.
Found this page while googling “meme for crooked as sin” Lol
Anyway… love this article!
The only thing is we grew up thinking CFA meant ‘come from away’ but FOR Nflders who were away from Nfld, not non-newfies! But idk, maybe thats just us Glovertown-Gander peeps.
September 14th, 2018 at 7:07 am (#)
(Like a non swear word) We’d say it as kids
April 3rd, 2020 at 3:52 am (#)
Throw me over the fence some hay.
You can’t get there from here.
I went to school in St. John’s for 5 years ggrades 5~ 9 . Best years of my life . Best friends ever . I still have my closest girlfriend and talk frequently.
April 5th, 2020 at 6:41 pm (#)
[…] A CFA’s Guide to Newfoundland Sayings […]
May 29th, 2020 at 6:12 pm (#)
I am from Labrador and there are still some words that baffle me. My wife’s cousins says “bide awhile” or “ bide deer” . I need to know am I spelling it right- bide-
August 19th, 2020 at 6:16 pm (#)
Probably my favourite is ‘dead soak’, possibly ‘dead soke’. This is something that, being a Newfoundlander, I heard and said, but never saw wrote down. Means ‘taking forever’ or like longer than it should, as in ‘He’s taking his dead soak talking to Millie. What’s on the go?’
So close that I can’t call it, is the habit of standing right by someone and letting out an amazed ‘Look at this one, luh? This one all turned out, like he’s royalty’. Usually, ‘this one’ is used appreciatively and with a bit of amazement, like you don’t quite know the person next to you (who you’ve probably known forever – hello, it’s Newfoundland). It can be followed by a little talk about ‘that one’, undoubtedly ‘this one’s’ buddy (sits on the right-hand of ‘known him/her forever’). ‘The cheek on this one, luh? Just listen.’
Btw, the usage of ‘after’ as in ‘I’m after going’ comes from Irish Gaelic and the absence of certain grammatical constructions when you come from the original Gaelic. Don’t know if you knew why Newfoundlanders use that one. I’m from the Irish shore, so I use it all the time. The ubiquitous ‘Luh’ shouldn’t be underestimated, btw. It happens in conversation, sure, but now and again, my grandfather or great uncle would stop still and say it, and then you’d stop everything, and watch (look around), because if that’s all he or she is gonna say, there’s almost always a dangerous situation you’re walking into (like about to step on the dangerous end of a rake), and it’s so imminent, there’s not time for more. So, ‘Luh’ isn’t as simple as it may sound.
It’s a magical island! What do you expect?
August 19th, 2020 at 6:32 pm (#)
Oh. A note about the word ‘Newfie’. Here’s the thing. In the USA I hear all the time: “Oh, my husband and I own a Newfie. We love them. I got my first when I was a child”. Well. My reaction to that was to go ‘Wha?’ and curl my lip. Guess what we call Newfoundland dogs in Newfoundland? Hold on for this — ‘Newfoundland dogs’. You never would think of calling a Newfoundland dog a ‘Newfie’. A Newfie is a *person*. If you’re going around going ‘Newfies are so friendly’, and ‘Newfies are so loyal’, and you mean your dog? You’re going to start a row. Newfoundland dogs should be called Newfoundland dogs whenever you’re talking to Newfies. Other than that, you’re actually not saying what you think you’re saying.
So remember, don’t call people dags (dogs)!
May 6th, 2021 at 2:58 am (#)
My mother frequently told me my hair looked like a “birch broom in the fits”! ? My hairy is curly and prone to getting wild and unruly in Newfoundland’s windy weather.
August 3rd, 2021 at 3:03 pm (#)
” Throw the horse over the fence, some hay”
” If there’s one thing I don’t like on a house, it’s no porch.”
September 9th, 2021 at 11:38 am (#)
January 1st, 2022 at 4:59 pm (#)
This is delightful – the article and the comments! I’m “from away,” but my Dad was born in Grand Bank. For the past 17 years I’ve had a cabin near Pouch Cove, and now I’m living in town with my partner, who’s from Burin with a lifetime of Newfoundland speech and customs.
“Clue up” was a brand new term for me, and we couldn’t find it in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. But an internet search found this article for us, and there it is, in Comment #120. Right on!
Another word I didn’t understand properly until he explained was “fresh” meaning not salted, as in “Did you find that soup a bit fresh?”
I’m printing up this post and all the comments and putting a copy into our Dictionary. Thanks for all of it, and I hope you keep it going.
April 26th, 2022 at 9:18 am (#)
Haven’t seen “Lef ‘er go fer d’ Gullies”. Got a feeling it’s something to do with the ‘Bullet’ but not sure.
Like your site. Have ya ever bin t’ Barcelona, Missus?”
June 16th, 2022 at 11:36 pm (#)
If I were to guess, those that find the term “Newfie” offensive are the reason half the population is afraid to open their mouths these days… Wonder if they find “Snowflake” as offensive? lol
Food for thought:
If you had a friend from Australia, would you be afraid to call her an Aussie?? No. Exactly.
June 25th, 2022 at 8:22 am (#)
Does “Aussie” have a history of being used as a derogatory term? Because I know that for a long time “Newfie” and “stupid Newfie” were synonymous. People have been reclaiming the term, which is fantastic, but if you know that a segment of the population where you’re visiting would be offended by a term why would you choose to use it? Are your tourist feelings more important than the local population’s?
July 24th, 2022 at 3:35 pm (#)
My Da came from near Cabots Cove, Bona Vista. The expression I remember most was: ” Two ply ninny b’y”,.
July 31st, 2022 at 4:24 pm (#)
My father, a born-n-bred American, was very proud of his St. John’s, Newfoundland, heritage. His grandmother was a fisherwoman who could “scale a fish faster than any man on the dock.”
He was a man of quotations, most of which he knew nothing about.
Hence: “Yankees for inventions, Torbay boys for splits.”
Has anyone any ideas RE the origins/meaning of this quote?
My father is no longer with us but would be so proud that his heritage lives on. I’ll finally be visiting there via a cruise in August.
August 1st, 2022 at 4:00 pm (#)
Hi Helen, so glad you’re coming to check out Newfoundland. While you’re in port on your cruise, check out St. John’s Walking Tours: https://stjohnswalkingtours.com It’s a new business that I’ve started with a friend (he’s the tour guide) this summer and we have morning and afternoon guided walks around downtown with some really fun stories about the city. Great way to explore downtown on a limited timeframe.
January 16th, 2023 at 10:31 pm (#)
I’m a proud 77 yr-old Newfie who uses the word all the time to describe myself.
n aunt of mine absolutely hated it so I would deliberately use it in front her for a laugh.
I use it to educate others to take pride in it. After all, it is just an abbreviation, of sorts…..nothing to get one’s knickers in a twist”.
February 8th, 2023 at 7:16 pm (#)
My Nan, my Aunt and my mom all used to call me a “streel” ALL THE TIME!
I loves it, to this day brings back so many good memories in Frenchman’s Cove.
Reading this brought back some good memories.