High school teacher pens a Generation Z dictionary

James Callahan, 43, a teacher in Lowell, Mass., apparently didn’t understand a lot of what his students were saying when he started a list, which, in the last week or so, has been a Twitter hit.

He started a language dictionary of Generation Z, loosely defined as people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.

“While the list itself is pretty innocuous, it is also in many ways a heuristic device for me,” he tells the Lowell Sun. “I get to learn some of the nuances of how teenagers communicate with each other, and I believe that can help me become a more effective teacher.”

Callahan, who teaches honors and Advanced Placement sociology, started asking his students to define slang terms they’d use in class. He added them to a spreadsheet that tracked the language.


“Flexed on” is a verbal gesture of dominance. “Tea” is gossip. “Beat your face” means to apply makeup.

“Facts” and “periodt” have similar meanings. The former is defined as “I agree with what you just said; a confirming question; may be used as a question or statement of fact.”

Last week, he got famous when a student tweeted a picture of a portion of the spreadsheet.

Mr. Callahan used his brief internet fame to raise money to expand the technology available in his classroom, because he’s still a teacher and it’s still 2019, when teachers have to pay for many of the resources students need to help them learn.