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Can you speak Prairies? Here is your guide to deciphering the dialect

Tom Vernon, Global News

WINNIPEG — When someone asks you, “How big are the windrows in your back alley?” or “Could you bring some dainties to the social?” do you understand what they’re saying?

If you don’t, you’re most likely not from the Prairies. Globalnews.ca wanted to come up with a list of words you might come across on your prairie travels. The list was compiled by online staff in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Manitoba storm
Light brings out the Prairie colours as a storm moves over southern Manitoba Thursday. Submitted by Priscilla Kerr Hatae / Global News

Popular prairie words with definitions:

  • Dainties
    • Baked treats and goodies
  • Social
    • A fundraising event commonly held by the bride and groom of an upcoming wedding to raise money
  • Quinzee
    • A popular way of making a snow fort where you create a large pile of snow, wait for it to harden and hollow it out
  • Booter
    • When snow or water gets in your boot or footwear
  • Cabin
    • Used in the same context as cottage
  • Honey dill
    • Popular conidment commonly used with chicken fingers
  • Gotch
    • Underwear
  • Bunny Hug
    • Sweater or hoodie most commonly heard in Saskatchewan
  • 2-4
    • A case of 24 beer
  • Biffed
    • When someone falls, or slips. For example, “Joe biffed it on his way to the car”
  • Windrows
    • The snow left at the end of a driveway after a snowplow has cleared a road. 
  • Dike
    • Used to hold back water at possible flood points and commonly made of sandbags
  • Jam buster
    • A delicious type of donut with a jam filled centre
  • Loser limousine/cruiser
    • City transit
  • Late Lunch
    • A meal served around midnight at a social (see above definition) consisting of rye bread, cheese, deli meat and pickles
  • Pickerel
    • Also known as Walleye, Manitoba’s official provincial fish
  • Vendor
    • A beer store
  • LC
    • Liquor store, an abbreviation of Liquor Commission
  • Meat shoulder
    • A game played at socials (see above definition) where one person walks up to another and pats them on the shoulder, leaving behind a piece of meat from the late lunch (see above definition). The game is considered to be successful if the person doesn’t notice the piece of meat for an extended period of time. 
  • Play structure
    • A climbing structure commonly consisting of a slide and monkey bars for children to play on that is often found on school grounds and in parks
  • Salisbury House or “Sals”
    • A Manitoba restaurant open 24 hours
  • Cheese Nip
    • A type of burger served at Salisbury House restaurants (see above definition) 
  • No-see-ums
    • A small insect also known as Sandflies

Did we miss any words? Let us know your favourite prairies phrases in the comment below!

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