Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 6-8

3 min read

Speaking the Same (S)Language

Feb 10, 2022 7:54 PM

In a recent unit in my eighth grade language arts classes, my middle school students have been digging into word origins, meaning, and the evolution of language. We have discussed big questions like:
  • Who (what groups or individuals) influence and change the English language? How do they do this?
  • Why do dictionaries matter? How can they be helpful/useful for English speakers/readers/writers?
  • Will the English language ever stop evolving?
  • How has the English language changed over time? (consider inventions, geography, humanity, etc)
In exploring these questions, we examined the histories of the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster by reading their origin stories and examining what goes into a dictionary entry. We discussed how dictionaries and the organizations behind them are not the sole decision makers on what gets to be a word or not: they largely track words being created and used by people.
Since I frequently hear students throwing out words that I'm unfamiliar with, I wanted to see what terms they would consider worthy of a Slang/Hip Lingo Dictionary, and I had them create their own entries to show familiarity with the pieces of a dictionary entry and also to help them recognize that they are presently participating in the evolution of the English language. What I find interesting (though not surprising) is that the "origin" of many of these words--or at least the ways they are currently used--is social media platforms, gaming, and YouTube. 
The following words were submitted by students, and I believe that parents of tweens and teens may find the definitions and examples useful for interpreting teenage-speak. (And may even create a few laughs for any parent brave enough to try and throw one into casual conversation with their student!)
Upper School Girl
abow (interjection) 1. a descriptive word meaning very surprised and/or amazed
origin: popularized by TikTok users
example: "The coach told me to run a lap, abow!"
bussin' (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning delicious, good, yummy, typically referring to food
origin: popularized by TikTok users
example: "That four course meal was not bussin', but people say it's a five-star restaurant."
cap (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning false, untrue
antonyms--for real, totally
origin: unknown
example: "You're telling me you got a 100 on that science test you didn't study for--that's cap."
cracked (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning good, cool, usually referring to something related to video games
origin: the videogame Fortnite
example: "I am cracked at sports."
griddy (noun) 1. a specific celebratory dance 
synonyms--happy dance
origin: popularized by professional athletes such as Justin Jefferson
example: "Justin Jefferson likes to do the griddy."
pog/poggers (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning good, cool, usually referring to something related to video games
synonyms--awesome, amazing
origin: popularized on the gaming platform Twitch
example: "My favorite YouTuber is poggers because she's really good at video games."
pushin' p (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning good, cool, valid
origin: popularized by musical artist Gunna 
example: "John, you're pushin' p for buying me that."
slaps (verb) 1. a descriptive word meaning good, pleasant, usually referring to music
origin: unknown
example: "I love this song; it slaps."
sus (adjective) 1. a descriptive word meaning suspect, suspicious
origin: popularized through social media commenting and memes
example: "I don't trust that guy--he's sus."
Emily Johnson
Written by Emily Johnson

Emily currently serves as a seventh-grade English teacher at Worthington Christian School. With a degree in Integrated Language Arts and Communication Studies from Capital University, she specifically desires for students to take ownership of their information intake and communication through reading and writing with purpose.