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The term appears to have been coined in the 19th century, although its etymology is unclear, it usually referred to those who worked in a forest, usually cultivating wood.
- kanata "village" (See Name of Canada)
- Canada + -uc (Algonquian noun suffix)
- Genna, an obscure term for Irish-French-Canadians.
- Some linguists hold that it is derived from the Hawaiian Kanaka.
According to Bart Bandy's Lexicon of Canadian Etymology (Don Mills, Ont., C. Farquharson, 1994), the term evolved from the French word canule around the time of the American Revolution, but its path of evolution is still not clear. Another possibility is that it rose from a mispronunciation among Benedict Arnold's forces as they laid siege to Quebec in the winter of 1776. According to Bandy, the comte de Theleme-Menteuse was one of the locals captured by the Americans. In his Contes bizarre d'Isle d'Orleans, the latter says that the Americans picked up the common phrase "Quelle canule", but they were usually shivering so hard when they said it that it came out with the "l" hardened into a guttural stop – thence a "k".
On the other hand, Richard Montgomery, Arnold’s co-commander on the Canadian expedition, says that Arnold, who loved word-play, made a joke on the word canule that was picked up by his troops. In discussing the strategic value of placing troops at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River to resist the British fleet expected in the spring, Arnold noted the peculiar shape of the Gaspé Peninsula and exclaimed, "There's a canule to make his majesty gasp." One assumes that the same shivering effect noted previously led to the mispronunciation.
Yet another possibility comes from the German mercenaries who were captured with John Burgoyne's army at Saratoga. Held in prison camps in Pennsylvania, after Yorktown they were offered repatriation to Canada where they had spent several months camped near present-day Ottawa waiting for Burgoyne to get his gear together. Their universal protestation when return to the "Plains of Ottawa" was offered them was "Nein! Nein! Genug von Kanada." They opted, instead, to become Pennsylvania Dutch. The English-speaking Americans around them picked up the phrase (part of "Pulling the Lion's Tail" no doubt) and compressed Genug von Kanada into "Genug Kanada," and so on. While this seems somewhat far-fetched, it does offer a reasonable explanation for the "k" in a word supposedly derived from French, especially as it was often spelled "Kanuck" during the 19th century.
Bandy also suggests that there is some evidence of the word originating among the "down-easters" of Maine who had picked up "Quelle Canule" from their French-speaking neighbours and applied it when facing the navigational difficulties caused by the peculiar "flushing" effect of the famed tides of the Bay of Fundy.
Another possibility, though there is no mention in Bandy, is that the many Scots who came to Canada during the late 18th and early 19th centuries quickly absorbed Quelle canule into their working vocabulary. Being Scots, they would, of course, swallow the end of canule and apply a mild glottal stop, ending up with something very like "Quelle canuhgk."
In Cree Indian mythology, there existed a wolf-spirit called "Kannuk". This may be a possible origin for the term/ name "Canuck"...an Anglicization of the aboriginal word "Kannuk".
A more recent theory of term has that its origins are in the Klondike Gold Rush or the Fraser Valley Gold Rush and the dynamics of the fast evolving Chinook jargon, the lingua franca of the Pacific Northwest at the time. Hawaiian prospectors were derogatorily referred to as "Canucks" instead of the proper Kanaka (Hawaiian) by Anglo-American prospectors and other Europeans in the Yukon and Alaska. Eventually this term was applied to French Canadians and found its way to the rest of the continent, as prospectors drifted back to their home regions. This is similar to other words in English derived from Chinook Jargon. Additionally, the term may not specifically derive from the Klondike gold rush as there was significant Hawaiian immigration to merit a Kanaka community and the region known as Kanaka Bar which is a Chinook jargon term. 
The Random House Dictionary notes that: "The term Canuck is first recorded about 1835 as an Americanism (American term), originally referring specifically to a French Canadian. This was probably the original meaning, though in Canada and other countries, "Canuck" refers to any Canadian."  For example, someone residing in Toronto might be considered a "Canuck". In fact, the 1835 source cited refers to a foreign-speaker: "Jonathan distinguishes a Dutch or a French Canadian, by the term Kanuk". 
Usage and examples 
Canadians use "Canuck" as an affectionate or merely descriptive term for their nationality. It is not considered derogatory in Canada, although other nationalities may use the word as an affectionate or derogatory term. An abbreviated version of the word, "Nucks", is sometimes heard, usually as a colloquial reference to the hockey team.
Usage of the term includes:
- The Vancouver Canucks professional hockey team.
- "Canuck" is a nickname for the Curtiss JN4 biplane and Avro CF-100 jet fighter. The CF-100 was the only Canadian-designed and built jet fighter to enter operational service. From 1950–1958, 692 Canucks were built. They remained in service until 1981
- One of the first uses of "Canuck" — in the form of "Kanuk" — specifically referred to Dutch Canadians as well as the French.
- The Canada national rugby union team (men's) is officially nicknamed "Canucks".
- The Canucks rugby Club, playing in Calgary since 1968.
- The Crazy Canucks, Canadian alpine ski racers who competed successfully on the World Cup circuit in the '70s.
- Johnny Canuck, a personification of Canada who appeared in early political cartoons of the 1860s resisting Uncle Sam's bullying. Johnny Canuck was revived in 1942 by Leo Bachle to defend Canada against the Nazis. The Vancouver Canucks have adopted a personification of Johnny Canuck on their alternate hockey sweater. The goaltender for the Canucks Roberto Luongo, has a picture of Johnny Canuck on his goalie mask.
- In 1975 in comics by Richard Comely, Captain Canuck is a super-agent for Canadians' security, with Redcoat and Kebec being his sidekicks. (Kebec is claimed to be unrelated to Capitaine Kébec of a French-Canadian comic published two years earlier.) Captain Canuck had enhanced strength and endurance thanks to being bathed in alien rays during a camping trip. The captain was reintroduced in the mid-1990s, and again in 2004.
- Operation Canuck was the designated name of a British SAS raid led by a Canadian captain, Buck McDonald in January 1945.
- "Canuck" also has the derived meanings of a Canadian pony (rare) and a French-Canadian patois (very rare).
- Soviet Canuckistan was an insult used by Pat Buchanan in response to Canada's reaction to racial profiling by US Customs agents.
- During the Vancouver 2010 Olympics official Canadian Olympic gear bore the term.
- The Canuck letter became a focal point during the US 1972 Democratic primaries, when a letter published in the Manchester Union Leader implied Democratic contender Senator Edmund Muskie was prejudiced against French-Canadians. Soon, as a result, he ended his campaign. The letter was later discovered to have been written by the Nixon campaign in an attempt to sabotage Muskie.
- The Marvel Comics character Wolverine is often referred to affectionately as "the Ol' Canuklehead" due to his Canadian heritage.
- In the novel Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, French-Canadians are often referred to as "'Nucks."
See also 
- Random House Dictionary
- Irving Lewis Allen (1990). Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling from Redskin to WASP, pp. 59, 61–62. New York: Bergin & Garvey. ISBN 0-89789-217-8.
- Irving Lewis Allen (1990). Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling from Redskin to WASP, pp 59, 61–62. New York: Bergin & Garvey. ISBN 0-89789-217-8.
- Random House
- Leiden University
- Johnny Canuck
- The Oxford Companion To The English Language
|Look up Canuck in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|