Middle-Aged High School Teacher Creates Adorably Handy Dictionary Of ‘Gen Z’ Slang Words

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

Sis, this Generation Z dictionary slaps, no cap. Periodt.

If you have no idea what I just said, perhaps you could use this handy dictionary of Generation Z slang words that a high school teacher created?

According to Bored Panda, Mr. James Callahan works at Lowell High School in Massachusetts. He teaches teenagers, aka members of Generation Z, aka kids whose slang words are sometimes unrecognizable even to people who are only a few years older than them.

In an effort to connect to his students more, Mr. Callahan started writing down the definitions of the newfangled slang words that he heard his students using. He now has an online document of 70 words and definitions, and it’s amazing.

Here are just a few helpful translations from the dictionary:

  • Sis: Exclamation of disbelief; universal nickname.
  • Slaps: Of high quality.
  • No cap: I am serious/no lie/for real.
  • Periodt: See “facts.”
  • Facts: I agree with what you just said; a confirming question; may be used as a question or statement.

Mr. Callahan’s dictionary went massively viral on Twitter, because it’s hilarious, adorable, AND educational.

With the advent of social media, slang vocabulary changes faster than the speed of light. That poses a challenge for teachers, who may or may not have ANY idea what their teenage students are saying.

A lot of teachers try to keep up and completely fail. But one teacher at Lowell High School in Massachusetts is, ahem, “slaying” it.

Mr. Callahan created an online dictionary of Generation Z slang with the help of his classroom.

The dictionary includes some words that will be familiar to anyone who spends any time on Twitter, including “periodt,” “sis,” and “clap back.”

There are also some slang terms that I, a millennial, have never even heard of, like “crackie” and “dead dogs.”

But the best part of the dictionary has to be the definitions. The list is color-coded, with the slang terms in green on the left and the definitions in yellow on the right.

“I’m dead” translates to “That was amusing” — a definition that, in fact, has me dead.

If something “slaps,” it means it’s “high quality,” according to Mr. Callahan.

And if someone says, “That ain’t it,” they’re saying, “Unacceptable — I do not approve.”

A student took a photo of the document and shared it on her social media. People could not get enough of it, and it now has over 500,000 likes.

The student has received a lot of attention for the tweet, but she says Mr. Callahan is the real star of this story.

“I’m just the catalyst,” she said.

After thousands of people tried to view the document at once, the teacher set up a public link to the full list, and it does not disappoint.

Mr. Callahan told about how this dictionary came to be. He started it in September, and he gets the definitions from the students.

“I noticed that within the last couple of years, whenever I asked students to define and explain terms, they started suggesting that I write/type them down into a dictionary,” Mr. Callahan said.

“I’m not sure which word was the first entry, but the document did grow quite quickly.”

Mr. Callahan added that he mainly uses the dictionary to connect with his students.

“I may occasionally try to slip one of their terms into my instruction just to surprise or mess with the students, but more importantly to try to connect with them on their level,” he said.

“As a teacher, I’m constantly front stage … I know I have to evolve and make the performance relevant in any way I can,” he added.

The student who originally posted the tweet followed up to add that her school was on the phone with Ellen DeGeneres.

Thanks to all of the positive attention, the school has also managed to fully fund multiple school projects through

Also, people on Twitter are continuing to add new word suggestions for Mr. Callahan’s dictionary. He says the list has 70 words so far, and he predicts it’ll just get longer and longer.

His competency at post-millennial slang not only helps him at his job but also in his personal life.

“I have three young children who will be teenagers at some point,” he told

“Little do they know that I’m going to be one of the most literate post-millennial/Gen Z dads around.”

Perhaps the best part of this story is how adorably earnest and nonjudgmental the teacher is about the new “language” he’s learning.

“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,” Mr. Callahan told BuzzFeed News. “For example, when I think of ‘snack,’ I think Cheez-Its. It wasn’t until a month ago that I learned that an attractive person is a ‘snack.’ I’m laughing again just thinking about my students explaining it to me.”

Mr. Callahan is a real one, and this dictionary high-key slaps, and that’s facts, PERIODT.