I wrote this almost three years ago and put it on Facebook, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared it here.
A group of fish is a school.
A group of birds is a flock.
But what do you call a group of teenage girls?
For the past twelve years, I have been substitute teaching at three different high schools, and one day this question occurred to me. Don’t ask why, I don’t understand it myself, except to say I’ve been seeing teenage girls in so many different situations for so long that my mind simply began to wonder.
So I began asking around. I received some really good suggestions:
A “gaggle”, but that was already taken for geese.
A “giggle”, cute but too frivolous.
A “trouble”, but I discounted that because it was suggested by another teacher.
Then a girl suggested something that I thought was pure genius – a “beff”, pronounced with a short e as in ten. (For goodness sake, don’t pronounce it “beef”.) She derived it from the phrase “BEst Friends Forever”, and I thought that was entirely appropriate, since friendship during the formative teen years is so very important, especially for girls.
Will it catch on? I admit if there was an urgent need for such a word, it would’ve evolved long ago. How long have girls had been socializing in groups?
But English is a flexible language. Who would have thought an obscure word like “googol” would become (with a tweak in spelling to the modern Google) a symbol of the modern age as both a noun and a verb?
So this is my offering to the English language.
And what about teenage boys? Frankly, I’m not nearly as eager to think about that one.