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25 Funny Newfoundland Sayings To Learn Before You Visit

The history of Newfoundland sayings is deeply rooted in the province’s unique cultural and historical tapestry. Newfoundland and Labrador, the easternmost province of Canada, has a rich heritage shaped by a blend of Indigenous, French, English, and Irish influences. This melting pot of cultures, combined with the province’s geographical isolation and its fishing-based economy, has led to the development of a distinct dialect and a treasure trove of sayings.

The origins of Newfoundland’s unique vernacular can be traced back to the early 16th and 17th centuries when European settlers, primarily from the West Country of England and southeastern Ireland, began to inhabit the island. These settlers brought with them their dialects, idioms, and linguistic quirks, which, over time, mingled with the languages and expressions of the indigenous Beothuk and Mi’kmaq peoples. This blend was further influenced by the language of French and Basque fishermen who frequented the island’s waters.

Newfoundland’s isolation from mainland Canada and the rest of North America helped preserve many aspects of this early language. While English in other parts of the world evolved, the Newfoundland dialect retained many archaic phrases and words that had fallen out of common usage elsewhere. This linguistic time capsule was further enriched by the unique experiences and challenges faced by the island’s inhabitants, particularly in the fishing communities that dotted the rugged coastline.

The sayings themselves are often characterized by humor, wit, and a down-to-earth pragmatism. They reflect the hardy, resilient nature of Newfoundlanders, who have long faced a harsh climate, treacherous seas, and economic hardships. These expressions often encapsulate observations about the weather, the sea, and daily life, offering insight into the worldview and character of the island’s residents.

Another significant aspect of Newfoundland sayings is their rhythmic and musical quality, a reflection of the province’s strong oral storytelling tradition. This tradition, coupled with the importance of music and song in Newfoundland culture, has helped to preserve and transmit these sayings through generations.

Here are 25 funny and charming Newfoundland & Labrador sayings you’ll want to know before visiting this lovely province.

“Stay where you’re to till I comes where you’re at.” – Wait there, I’ll come to you.
“Lord tunderin’ Jesus!” – An expression of surprise or disbelief.
“Best kind!” – That’s great or excellent.
“Long may your big jib draw!” – May you have good fortune for a long time.
“Who knit ya?” – Who are your parents or where are you from?
“Yes b’y!” – Yes boy, used to express agreement or excitement.
“Whadd’ya at?” – What are you doing?
“He’s got the arse out of ‘er.” – He’s driving very fast.
“Crooked as sin.” – Very dishonest or corrupt.
“I dies at you.” – You’re really funny.
“This weather is enough to drive ya cracked.” – This weather is very frustrating.
“Gone where the ducks wear mitts.” – Gone completely crazy.
“She’s right mauzy out today.” – The weather is humid or damp.
“I’m flat out like a lizard drinking.” – I’m very busy.
“Like trying to put butter on a cat’s arse with a hot knitting needle.” – A task that’s extremely difficult or impossible.
“The arse is gone right out of her.” – Something has lost its appeal or value.
“Lord liftin’.” – An exclamation of surprise or amazement.
“He’s not worth the powder to blow him to hell.” – He’s worthless or not worth the effort.
“That’s a time, b’y!” – That was a great experience.
“Dear is your heart.” – You’re sweet or kind.
“Like a fart in a mitten.” – Something or someone that doesn’t fit in.
“She’s as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” – Very nervous.
“Like two peas in a lobscouse.” – Very close or inseparable.
“The face on ya like a boiled boot!” – You look unhappy or grumpy.
“Some shocked, b’y!” – Very surprised or astonished.
These sayings are not only humorous but also capture the unique spirit and linguistic creativity of Newfoundlanders.

Today, Newfoundland sayings are celebrated as a vital part of the province’s cultural heritage. They continue to be a source of pride and identity for Newfoundlanders, both on the island and in the broader diaspora. These expressions not only provide a window into the past but also continue to enrich the everyday language of Newfoundlanders, keeping the province’s history and traditions alive in the 21st century.

Whaddya At?