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This Teacher Is Going Viral for His Incredible Spreadsheet of Slang Terms

We all could use "Callahan's Generation Z Dictionary."

Language is constantly evolving, and today's young people are particularly fond of using slang terms that many of us have never heard of. Even Merriam-Webster recently added words like "unplug" and "on-brand" to its dictionary. And, thanks to the internet, the speed at which new colloquial expressions crop up has never been faster. How is anyone who doesn't live on social media meant to keep up?

Perhaps that's why this tweet by Twitter user @mewtailv2, a student at Lowell High School in Massachusetts, is going viral. Her sociology teacher, James Callahan, has created a spreadsheet to help him decode the mysterious language of his students, calling it "Callahan's Generation Z Dictionary."

The tweet received more than 157,000 retweets since it was first posted on Monday. After so many responses, Callahan himself tweeted a link to the full spreadsheet as well as some screenshots of its contents.

Looking closer at Callahan's glossary, you'll find words like "clap back" ("respond to an insult with an even greater insult") and "facts" ("I agree with what you just said"). It's kind of Shakespearean that "the game" means "life." And, in spite of its alarming appearance, you might be relieved to find out "I'm dead" means "That was amusing."

slang glossary

Moving on, you'll see that "spill the tea" means to gossip, and to "slay" means "to do well." It's also good to know that if something "slaps," that means it's "of high quality"; and if someone tells you to "stay up," it's a form of support and encouragement.

Oh, and contrary to what you may initially assume, "we love that" is actually an "ironic/sarcastic response to something bad."

professor creates glossary of student's slang terms, goes viral

"I often overhear students in the hallways or my classrooms using words (or) slang terms in their personal conversations," Callahan told USA Today. "In order to understand them better, (and) make a connection with them on a personal level, I started asking them what certain words meant…Language is so fluid, and every generation creates their own vocabulary bank of slang. The students created it, I am sort of just the archivist!"

Many social media users applauded Callahan for making such a genuine effort to better communicate with his students, especially given the subject matter he teaches.

And people are "dead" over how seriously he took this project.

Once the tweet went viral, Callahan saw the attention as an opportunity to do some good in the world, and invited people to donate to a few community programs.

After all the attention, one of the projects was fully funded, according to Callahan's Twitter.

Which is why one Twitter user proposed a new entry to our lexicon: Callahan, a verb meaning "to share something of value on the internet or social media for the public good and without expectation of reward."

And for more heartwarming viral tweets, check out Why This Woman's Romantic Secret from Her Husband Is Going Viral.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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