Header photo by Sarah McCulloch

To an outsider, a “Goog” “meat shouldering” or “booter” sound like the punchline of a bad joke. But to a Manitoban, these words actually have meaning. English and French are widely spoken across Canada, but every region has a unique vocabulary only understood by those born and bred there. Here’s a list of lingo that, if uttered, only a Manitoban (or maybe someone else from the Prairies) would understand. 

Food for thought

Fat boy – a beef burger that has a house-made patty topped with chili. Accoutrements normally include shredded lettuce, a dill pickle (sliced length-wise) and a mess of mayo and mustard. Fat boys are on the menu at any iconic Winnipeg drive in: VJ’s, Mrs. Mike’s, Dairi Whip, St. James Burger, The White Top, Red Top, George’s...just to name a few. 

Honey dill sauce – a murky, gooey condiment – consisting of mayo, honey and dill – commonly served as dip for chicken fingers. This secret sauce is not widely known beyond our provincial boundaries.  

Jambuster A.K.A. a jelly-filled doughnut to the rest of North America.   

A Goog – a thick blueberry milkshake layered with a hot fudge sundae, bananas and whipped cream. This legendary ice cream confection can only be purchased at the Bridge Drive In (affectionately called BDI by locals), a nostalgic seasonal ice cream stand alongside the Red River on Jubilee Avenue in Winnipeg. 

Schmoo – a torte, using angel or sponge cake, that is layered with whipped cream, caramel and pecans. While schmoo torte is now a dessert recognized across Canada, legend has it that it originated in Winnipeg by a mother celebrating her son's bar mitzvah.  

Dainties – an assortment of home-made baking normally served on a platter in bite-sized portions and acceptable to eat with your fingers. Others may refer to this baking as “squares”, but Manitobans prefer the word “dainties” because, well, it sounds nicer.     

Favourite pastimes

Spongee – a cult winter sport almost exclusively played in Winnipeg with thousands of players in dozens of leagues across the city. With origins in outdoor community centre rinks dating back to the 1960s, spongee is similar in concept to ice hockey, but players wear soft-soled shoes similar to broomball shoes and not skates. The puck is made with a soft sponge material (hence the name).  

A Social – a fundraising party for a wedding, sports team, or community group often held at a community hall. Highlights of these only-in-Manitoba bashes are: dancing to “Love Shack” or “Mony Mony”, chugging a Labatt beer, entering a silent auction to win a BBQ or wine fridge, and “late lunch” snacks such as cheddar cheese cubes and rye bread sandwiches.

Meat shouldering a gag pulled at a Social (definition above) where a prankster stealthily places a piece of deli meat (from the late lunch) onto the shoulder of an unsuspecting victim. The objective is to not get caught and to see how long the victim parades around the dance floor before noticing or being informed.

Crokicurl a mashup of the sport of curling and the tabletop game of crokinole. Players compete on a quadrant-shaped ice rink, sliding pseudo-curling rocks toward the centre bullseye to accumulate the most points. Crokicurl rinks are beginning to pop up across Canada, but Manitobans take pride in knowing that the idea first came out of The Forks in Winnipeg in 2017.

Booter  occurs in spring when (mostly young) Manitobans trudge through puddles, ditches and the snowmelt and accidentally fill their boot with water. For some Manitobans, a booter also refers to  getting their boots full of snow in winter. This is commonly referred to as a “soaker” in other regions of Canada.  

It’s a cultural thing

Manitoba mascara – when hot breath and body heat mix with icy cold temps causing frost to form on your eyelashes. It’s most likely to happen when the thermometer plummets below -30 degrees and to folks who commute outdoors to work, or partake in outdoor recreational activities. 

The floodway – A.K.A. Duff’s Ditch. A giant channel dug along the east side of Winnipeg that serves as a diversion for rising waters of the mighty Red River during the spring melt.  

Winnipeg whiteout  when legions of Winnipeg Jets fans don white (be it a simple jersey or a head-to-toe crazy costume) and converge on downtown Winnipeg’s streets or at Bell MTS Place to support their hometown hockey team during NHL playoffs.  

Perimeteritus – a condition that derives its name from the Perimeter, the circular highway that defines the city limits of Winnipeg. It inhibits many urbanites from showing much interest in rural attractions and experiences that happen outside of the capital region. At Travel Manitoba, we are committed to helping cure Perimeteritus. 

Do you know of more Manitoba lingo not included in this list? Please comment below.