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June 2002 scene from an outport (small fishing village) in Newfoundland

Newfie (also Newf or sometimes Newfy) is a colloquial term used in Canada for someone who is from Newfoundland. Most Newfoundlanders consider "Newfie" a slur from its past used by American and Canadian military personnel present on the island and its use in Newfie jokes that depicted "Newfies" as stupid and foolish.[1] [2] The word was first recorded in a 1942 dictionary of slang. However, at this time Newfie only referred to Newfoundland itself; a Newfoundlander was a Newfier.

During the Second World War, sailors on convoy duty nicknamed St. John's (the capital of Newfoundland) Newfiejohn.[3]


The first edition of the Gage Canadian Dictionary, published in 1983, and the second edition of the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, published in 1987, both include usage notes describing the term 'Newfie' as offensive. However, neither the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, published in 2004, or the current edition of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, published in 1998, make such a mention.[4]

In March 2006, an Edmonton police officer was disciplined for using the word Newphie [sic] to describe the apprehension of an individual under the Mental Health Act.[5]

In the 1970s, the Government of Alberta added the term 'Newfie' to a list of words not allowed to be used on personalised licence plates, reasoning that it was an ethnic slur and hateful. In 2006, a man from Newfoundland argued that it was also a source of pride, and fought to have the word removed from the list, and he eventually won. As of 2008, the ban has been lifted.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ King, R. and Clarke, S. (2002), Contesting meaning: Newfie and the politics of ethnic labelling. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 6: 537–558. doi: 10.1111/1467-9481.00200
  3. ^ Dunlop, Daniel T. "The Sinking of U90". Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  4. ^ "Newfie". Dictionary of Newfoundland English, 2nd ed. 1998. Story, G. M.; Kirwin, W. J.; & Widdowson, J. D. A., eds. ISBN 978-0-8020-6819-4. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  5. ^ Edmonton Sun article reference
  6. ^ Alberta government approves NEWFIE licence plate

External links[edit]