Even if you don't have teens or pre-teens in your house, you still may have heard the phrase "what the sigma."

Before you play cool by acting like you know what it means when you actually don't, let's breakdown what those kids are saying.

Where Did 'What The Sigma' Come From?

As with most current slang and catchphrases among teens, "what the sigma" started as a meme. Popular meme explainer KnowYourMeme.com traced its origin back to a voice message on Instagram that later spread over to TikTok. 

The short audio recording gained traction when it was added to clip of SpongeBob and Squidward used in an "overstimulation video." The videos use quick jump cuts to edit together brief clips that aren't related to each other.

As far as KnowYourMeme.com could tell, the audio was added to the SpongeBob clip rather than it actually being something that aired during the animated show.

What Does 'What The Sigma Mean?'

While the phrase has been turned into a silly meme, there is some actual meaning behind it when used by teens.

Mr. Lindsay is special education math teacher from Arizona who has become a viral TikTok personality thanks to his videos explaining his students' slang. The videos have also landed him a regular spot on the Today show.

Lindsay recently took to TikTok to breakdown the meaning behind "what the sigma." He explains that while the term "sigma" was once used in a system to describe the hierarchy of males, it has taken on a more inclusive meaning today.

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"If a middle schooler or a high schooler is calling themselves or something else 'sigma,' it means they think it is the best," Lindsay says in the video.

The teacher has noticed a continued evolution of the word in recent weeks. He says students have been using it to describe just about anything thanks to the meme's recent popularity.

What the sigma? How did his coffee not spill in that video.

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