Canadian slang: Skookum

Today’s slang is a new one to me that is more commonly heard along Canada’s West Coast in British Columbia.


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Meaning: Skookum has a broad range of meanings, but the principal meaning is powerful, strong or really cool.

How to use it: Skookum is an adjective and can be used anywhere you would express a positive opinion for an event, person or object.

Examples: ‘That’s so skookum!’, ‘She’s a skookum woman’


‘Check out this skookum treehouse!’


Plus Plus: Skookum also has two other common uses.

The first one is a variety of monster similar to Bigfoot or Sasquatch.



Skookum could also mean a bad spirit of which crows, eagles, owls, blue jays, and various beasts could be representation. They could inhabit a person and cause serious illness.


And thirdly, Skookum is also a term used for Skookum dolls.


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Skookum dolls were a popular souvenir item in the 1920s – 1960s.


Origin: Skookum is a word from the melting pot language of Chinook Jargon – or Chinuk Wawa as it is often known these days. It’s heyday was in the 1800s – 1900s, but there are still small pockets of people who speak it today.




Chinuk Wawa was commonly spoken in the Pacific Northwest from Northern California all the way up to Alaska. It was used as a shared language by traders, trappers, Catholic missionaries and various ethnic groups (First Nations, Hawaiian, Chinese to name a few).

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