Who’s Buddy and why does everybody know him?

I have been living in Nova Scotia for a while now and I think I am well adapted. However, there are still a couple of things that I am not used to; “Buddy” is one of them. If you are not from around here, you might wonder who Buddy is. At least I did when I first moved here.

People here use “buddy” in two different ways. The first one, the one I kind of knew about  before getting here, is the equivalent of “friend”, as in “He and I are buddies”.  However, I hadn’t realized you could call someone “buddy” whether or not you knew them. I come from France – a country that some might consider a little snobby – where people who don’t know each other wouldn’t dare not use “vous” [the formal form of “you”]. That’s why the first time a friendly barista gave me my coffee and said “here you go buddy”, I got very … puzzled. Had I forgotten that we were friends? Did I know him? Had I ever interacted with him? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t insulted or anything; I was genuinely confused because I wasn’t used to it. And there is a little part of me, that snobby French part I guess, that still cringes when someone I don’t know calls me “buddy”.


The second way people use “Buddy” was even more confusing to me. I kept hearing people talking about Buddy. Buddy did this, Buddy said that. I lived in a small town at that time, so the first couple times Buddy was mentioned I just assumed he knew a lot of people. Quickly, because I am a very smart person, I figured out there were just a lot of men called Buddy… Until a few weeks later, when I had a problem with the copy machine at the building I used to work in. I asked someone how to fix it and they told me to ask “Buddy, down the hall”.  I went down the hall, looked at the names on all the doors and couldn’t find Buddy’s office. So I went back to see Murray who told me to look for Buddy and thus began a very surreal conversation:

– I couldn’t find Buddy’s office.

– Who’s Buddy?

[Because English was still tricky for me at that point, I understood “Whose buddy?”]

-No, no, Buddy who takes care of the copy machine…

– You mean Steve?

– Who is Steve?

– Steve, Buddy that takes care of the machine.


That’s when it clicked. Buddy is nobody. Actually Buddy is everybody. And everybody knows Buddy.


Buddy knows Nova Scotia very well. Do you? Take this quiz and find out.

If you say “Buddy” a lot you probably speak Nova Scotian. Click here to check


29 thoughts on “Who’s Buddy and why does everybody know him?

  1. Yes indeed. I have had to explain “Buddy” to my non-Nova Scotia friends many times. I tell them that Buddy is “everyman”, you don’t know his name (and it’s always male, we don’t call unnamed women “Buddy” for some reason), he is the subject of the conversation. “The guy that drives the bus” doesn’t flow as well as “Buddy driving the bus”. To add to the confusion, in our family I had an Uncle. Irving. Whom we all called “Bud”.


  2. Reblogged this on Send Me to Paris and commented:


  3. Being from N.S I loved this! I re-read some of my blog posts and referred to ‘Buddy’ a few times. My Dad’s name is Charles but everyone calls him Buddy, not sure they even know his real name! Fun read…thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In Newfoundland, “Buddy”=all males, whether you’ve met them or not, as in, “Buddy comes skiddin’ roun’ da corner an’ almos’ hit me, Lar tundrin’!” Similarly, Females=”Missus”, as in, “Missus over der by da bar has a nice arse on ‘er, wa?” Reference: lived in Newfoundland during grad school, ’79-’84. Been in California ever since…


  5. Just stumbled across your blog on FB. Love this post! Been living in Japan 10+yrs and it made me so homesick for NS!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] If you speak Nova Scotian you might be able to help me with this: Who’s Buddy and why does everybody know him? […]


  7. Linguistically, Nova Scotia’s ‘buddy’ (not friend) functions more as a truncated ‘somebody’. I hope that helps dispell your inward shudder when somebody (or Buddy) calls you Buddy :).


  8. So funnny! As a kid in Cape Breton I was under the misguided impression that Buddy was a guy sneaking across from Nfld to cause mischief.


  9. You’ve missed the 3rd usage of “Buddy” in NS when you don’t know the other guy at all which replaces “Asshole” usually after someone has pissed you off… as in “Hey… Buddy…”


  10. we use buddy the same way here in rural Ontario


  11. nailed it, bud.


  12. Actually, ‘buddy’ can be someone you don’t know at all. We substitute thier name with buddy, because most of the time we don’t know the name of sed person. Example: I was at the mall today, and this buddy dropped his wallet. Also most of us, myself included, talk fast. So sometimes “You need to see Buddy down the hall.” Comes out more slick rather than “You need to see Steve about that. His office is down the hall.” And last!! Buddy could be a replacement of a name you don’t want to say directly. Example: “He’s handsome looking!” “Who?” “Buddy over there.”


  13. I do hear the term *Buddy* in the Valley area but not as much… Regardless….I enjoy your posts.. Welcome to Nova Scotia….Glad you are here 🙂


  14. Love it 🙂 Reminds me of the entertainer Buddy whatsis name and the other fellers 🙂


  15. I grew up in NS and the funny thing is, until I read this post I never actually realized how often I and the people around me do this! Had a good laugh over it though!!


  16. It’s been a long while and they probably are no longer together but does anyone remember the Newfie band (toured Halifax bars for years) named “Buddy What’s His Name and de Udder Fellers”? (best read with a Newfie accent 🙂 )


  17. I’ve used buddy my whole life, also have used whatshisface (what’s his face) when you want to be slightly derogatory. As in “whatshisface just spilled beer on me over by the bar”. My dad always said Do Hickey in the same manner, but I don’t hear it often any more.


  18. LOL ! Awesome site “Buddy ” ! Made me laugh ! Dartmouth


  19. There is ANOTHER use that is being forgotten, the exclamatory form of “buddy”.

    As in, your friend is running on the sidewalk and hilariously slips on the ice and so you say, “Buddy!” before laughing.

    Hard to explain, Nova Scotians know what I mean though.


  20. Not only is ‘buddy’ used as a friend or an everyman, you can even use it in the connotation of someone you DON’T like:

    “Buddy thinks he’s king of the world or somethin’. Whatever.”


  21. I am a Nova Scotian and have heard of Buddy all of my life. Never use it! (My mother wouldn’t permit it!) My son who has never lived in NS came home from Alberta talking about Buddy! Obviously he spends a lot of time with Nova Scotians! I chuckle every time I hear him use it.


  22. Funny things is…when you call someone Buddy who you had just met, they respond or react as if it is their name.


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  24. On the South Shore we also say “youknowwho”. I ran into youknowho at the Petrocan.


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