This Teacher Keeps a Dictionary of Gen Z Slang Terms and Even Uses Them Sometimes

James Callahan started the dictionary in September.
James Callahan

James Callahan began keeping a dictionary of the words his students use in September. 

A teacher at a Massachusetts high school is keeping up with all of his students by creating a dictionary of the Generation Z terms they use.

James Callahan, 43, who teaches 150 students daily, said that although he’s been teaching since 2004, he began keeping a dictionary of the words his students use in September. He gets the definitions from the students themselves. 

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

A student recently took a photo of the document and shared it on her social media, where it quickly went viral. 

Callahan, who teaches at Lowell High School, said the dictionary helps him relate to 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,” Callahan 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.”

There’s around 70 terms on the list thus far and Callahan predicts it will just continue to grow. 

“I have three young children who will be teenagers at some point,” Callahan said. “Little do they know that I'm going to be one of the most literate post-millennial/Gen Z dads around.”