Teacher’s Generation Z Dictionary Goes Viral


Teenage slang is one of the hardest things to keep up with because with each generation comes to a new dialect. Simple, everyday words can become hard to decipher and it’s nearly impossible for most adults to understand WTF is going on.

However, James Callahan, a high school teacher took it upon himself to learn these phrases and record them in a ‘cheat sheet’. Little did he know that the ‘cheat sheet’ would get an A+ from the internet.

The Ultimate Guide to Generation Z Slang

Branding it ‘The Generation Z Dictionary’, Callahan created the document to have a better understanding of what students in his class were talking about.

The phrases mainly reflect the dialect used by children born in the 1990s and 2000s. “I love learning the words that their generation comes up with – both the unique ones, as well as the ones where they take an existing word and give it a completely different meaning,” Callahan said.

The compilation of words has proven useful in bridging the communication gap between him and his students. When he discovers the meaning of a word by interacting with his students, he adds it to the dictionary, and some of the words include:

tea/spill the tea” [gossip]; “nunya” [none of your business]; “slaps” [of high quality]; “sus” [suspicious/shady]; “take the L” [willingly making a sacrifice]; “beat your face” [apply makeup]; and, “clapped” [a crazy person].

A Whole New World of Language Gone Viral

Callahan admits that his students are central to the growing success of his ‘dictionary’, he is not shy to engage his students about the meaning of a word or phrase.

Furthermore, his newly acquired hobby has allowed him to use some of the slang in his lectures. One of his students asked to see the list, and Callahan shared the personalized list and it went viral!

He never expected the list to be useful to anyone but himself and aid in communicating with his students.

The student took a screenshot of the list and shared it on Twitter in April 2019, the tweet garnered over 500 000 retweets and the teacher was also contacted by Ellen DeGeneres. Twitter user, @BlvckCloud_, commented: The fact he teaches sociology is what makes this special.”

From the Classroom to the Globe

Callahan is not only fascinated with the language and social dynamics of Generation Z, but also with the rapid and viral spread of cultural information.

A simple Twitter post can engage people from across the world whereas he grew up in a completely different generation where sharing information was a manual process.

The beauty of the internet is its immediacy and Callahan is proud to spread his knowledge across the world. The passionate educator has made the Google Doc available for public viewing where people can learn new slang.

Callahan also used this opportunity to request viewers to consider donating funds to the Lowell High School’s fundraising project. What is better than learning new words and donating to a good cause at the same?

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