Is Newfie Offensive? Should You Say It?

When visiting Newfoundland, you may want to take part in the culture and use some local slang. But what about the word Newfie, is that too far? Is Newfie offensive?

Well, the answer is, it depends!

Similar to words like American, Canadian, or mainlander, the word Newfoundlander refers to people from the province of Newfoundland.

Newfie is a slang version of the word. According to Wikipedia, Newfie is a colloquial and derogatory term. However, it isn’t that cut and dry.

Newfie History

While there’s some debate over the exact origination of the word Newfie, it’s commonly believed to be a slur used by American and Canadian military members stationed on the island once upon a time, supposedly complaining about the lack of work ethic among Newfoundland people.

The word is also commonly used in “Newfie jokes” which depict Newfoundlanders as dumb.

Why was the Newfie excited to hear Quebec might leave Canada?

Because then it wouldn’t take him as long to drive to Toronto!

While it’s not as derogatory as many potentially offensive words in the English language, some Newfoundlanders don’t like it, while others consider Newfie a term of endearment.

The word is also commonly used in Newfie jokes which depict Newfoundlanders as dumb. Click To Tweet

Context Matters.. or Does It?

The term Newfie can be used in a variety of contexts.

For example, in a Newfie joke or to make a comment like “stupid newfies”, the use is evidently negative.

In other cases, even in our own Screech-In Ceremonies, it’s common to hear the term used proudly! It’s not uncommon to see fashion attire worn by locals with funny sayings including the word Newfie and hear the word in local culture and music.

That said, some people can’t or flat out refuse to see the difference and are always offended by the word no matter what. Everyone has an opinion formed through their own life lens and upbringing.

Others feel it’s more acceptable for use among our own people, but having the word used by an “outsider” is inappropriate.

Even when used negatively, there is still a large portion of the Newfoundland population who don’t find it offensive. Can’t something only hurt your feelings if you choose to let it? Many Newfoundlanders feel that the joke is on the person who makes a Newfie joke, since we have such a great sense of humor and are happy to laugh at ourselves.

Even when used negatively, there is still a large portion of the Newfoundland population who don't find it offensive. Click To Tweet

Should You Use the Word Newfie?

Use of the word Newfie is hit or miss. Some Newfoundlanders don’t mind and may even encourage it, others will not like it. That said, if there was ever a time when it wouldn’t be appreciated, it would be coming from a mainlander or CFA (Come from Away). Yes, Newfoundland has its own terms for those not from here, so it goes both ways!

The debate is age-old and its likely that both sides will simply have to agree to disagree.

So, is Newfie offensive? It’s hard to know if you use the word if it will be taken in a bad way or not. As of this moment, the RNC do not have a “language police” department, so you’re able to use the word freely if you decide to.