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Greek Alphabet & Terminology

Greek Terminology

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Active - See Collegian

Advisor - An alum member who serves as a resource for the active chapter and liaison between the alums and collegians.

Advisory Board - Members of an alumni chapter that advises the chapter.

Affiliate - To join with an organization. A local sorority may choose to affiliate with a NPC sorority if the opportunity arises. A member who switches schools may also affiliate with the chapter at his/her new school.

Alumni - Members of a fraternity who have graduated. (Singular is alumnus)

Alumnae - Members of a sorority who have graduated. (Singular is alumna)

Alumnae Initiation - Process where someone who did not get to join a sorority in college is initiated as an alum member and has the full benefits of membership as an alum. Many organizations do this and it is becoming increasingly popular. Abbreviated to AI, potential new members are called Potential New Alumnae Initiates, or PNAMs.

Badge - Also known as a pin, it is an item of jewelry given to members upon initiation. The badge is to be worn at all official functions, and upon a members death it should be returned to the sorority or fraternity headquarters. The badge must be worn with business like attire, usually over the heart and above all other pins.

Bid - An invitation to join a fraternity or sorority. They are given out on Bid Day during formal recruitment.

Bid Day - The last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a fraternity or sorority.

Big - Nickname for big sister or brother, a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings, such as Alpha Delta Pi's "Diamond Sisters" and Alpha Gamma Delta's "Sister-Mother/Sister-Daughter".

Brother - Term that fraternity members call each other.

Call - A yell used mostly by NPHC organizations (although some NIC, NPC and local orgs have calls as well). Used to identify and greet brothers and sisters. For example, Alpha Kappa Alpha's call is SKEE-WEE. Non-members are not permitted to use the call.

Canadian InterFraternity Conference (CIFC) - An annual national leadership conference on Greek leadership held at various campuses throughout Canada.

Candlelight - A sorority ceremony in which a sister announces her receiving of a lavaliere, pin, or engagement ring from her boyfriend. Also known as a Candle Pass.

Chapter - A branch of a national sorority, established at a campus. Each will have their own name, usually designated by Greek Letters. Eg, Zeta Tau Alpha, Beta Gamma chapter.

Chapter House - A house on campus where members of the organization live. Not all campuses have chapter houses. Some have designated rooms given to each sorority called Chapter Rooms, or a special dormitory where each group gets a floor. Some groups have no house or room and use whatever room is available at the university.

Chapter Meeting - A weekly meeting held to discuss sorority or fraternity business.

Charter - Permission from the national organization to have a chapter.

Collegian/Collegiate - An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority currently in college. Formerly known as active.

Colony - A new organization that is awaiting official recognition from their national to have a chapter at a campus.

Colors - The official pair or triad of colors that represent a specific Greek organization.

Continuous Open Recruitment - Also known as COR. If a sorority does not reach the membership ceiling (aka total) during formal recruitment, they may hold an informal recruitment, and offer bids to potential new members. Formerly called Continuous Open Bidding (COB).

Crest - Insignia used by sorority and fraternity members. Most Greek organizations reserve the crest for initiated members only. Each crest has hidden, secret meanings behind it. Also known as a coat or arms or shield.

Cross Cut - Occurs when a PNM was not on the first bid list of any of her stated preferences and each of them reached quota prior to reaching her name on their second bid list. This results in the PNM not getting a bid.

Cut - When a sorority either does not invite a woman back to further parties, or the potential new member does not go back to a house she was invited to.

Depledge - The process where a new member elects, or is asked, to reliquish membership during their pledge period. Those who depledge a sorority may not pledge another sorority for one full calendar year.

Deferred Recruitment - Recruitment which starts during the winter/spring instead of the fall (Aug/Sep). This allows the PNM to get acquainted with the school and Greek Life before recruitment occurs.

Dirty Rushing - When one organization will attempt to influence a potential new member through gifts, bad mouthing other organizations etc. Forbidden by all Panhellenic Councils.

Dressed to Pin - Slang term for the attire worn when wearing your sorority pin. Most sororities require pins be worn with conservative business like attire. Also seen as "Pin Attire"

Dry - A fraternity which does not permit alcohol on their house premises, and in many cases, does not allow the organization to host a party involving alcohol. Many fraternities are going dry, and all sororities have different levels of "dry". For example, one may allow the sorority to attend a function hosted by a non-dry fraternity, while another sorority may not.

Dry Rush - A fraternity rush event with no alcohol. All sorority recruitment events are dry, so this term only applies to fraternities.

Dues - Charge of joining a fraternity or sorority. Covers costs of operation, formal events, activities and other events.

Expansion - When an organization is looking to expand and open a chapter at a new school.

Family - Multiple generations of big brothers or sisters, brought together to form a family line.

Formal Recruitment - See Recruitment.

Founders Day - An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history. It's not necessarily held on the day the organization was founded.

Frat - A nickname for fraternity that is generally offensive and should not be used.

Fraternity - A Greek organization for men. Also refers to co-ed organizations and many sororities are official named fraternities.

Greek - Not the nationality. Greek in this sense means a member of a fraternity or sorority.

Greek Week - An organized week of activities including games, competitions and sing-songs.

GLO - Greek Letter Organization, or a sorority or fraternity.

Handshake - It's a special handshake unique to each organization. Only initiate members will know the handshake. Also known as a Grip.

Hazing - Any act performed by a member of any GLO that is likely to cause harm, danger, causes public embarassment or shame, compromise's a persons dignity, causes the person to be the object of ridicule, cause psychological harm, or is illegal. Hazing is against the law in all states, and is against the principles of all sororities and fraternities.

Hold Over - Someone who is a new member who for some reason, can't be initiated with their new member class and is "held over" until the next initiation occurs. Often happens because of finances, personal reasons etc.

Hot Boxing - Combination of two or more collegiate members speaking with a Potential New Member for more than two minutes. Potential New Members may be introduced to alumnae and to affiliate members, but are only allowed to have a conversation with collegiate members.

House - A GLO's physical facility, usually used to hold meetings and other events. Also a synonym for a GLO or the word chapter.

House Corporation - The entity that holds the title to property that a chapter lives or meets in. This is usually an alumni group like an advisory board.

House Director/House Mom - A person hired to live in the chapter house and supervise the chapter members.

IFC - Stands for Interfraternity Council, and is the governing body of the fraternities on a particular campus. Sorority equivilant is Panhellenic Council.

Inactive Member - A member who has elected to become inactive in sorority or fraternity life. They have no say or participation in chapter activities.

Independent - Term for a student that isn't a member of a GLO. Often seen as GDI (God Damn Independent).

In House - A member that lives in the house (if an organization has one that is!)

In House Legacy - A potential new member who has a sibling who is currently a collegian in the organization. For instance, if you are going through recruitment, and your blood sister is an Alpha Chi Omega at that school, you are an in house legacy to AXO. If your sister has already graduated and left the school, you are just a regular legacy to Alpha Chi Omega.

Initiate - A person who has recently learned the ritual of a fraternity or sorority and is a full member.

Initiation - A ceremony where a new member becomes a full member of the organization. Initiation ceremonies are private and different for all organizations.

Intake - Term for the process by which NPHC members are selected to become pledges of an organization. Much more secretive than recruitment or rush.

Intentional Single Preference - When a prospective member only puts doown one choice on her preference card. This sometimes lessens the chances of her getting a bid, and isn't recommended. Also called Suiciding.

Interest Group - A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a chapter of a Greek-letter organization.

Lavaliere - A necklace with the sorority letters, often worn by members. Lavaliering is a process where a fraternity member would give his lavaliere to his girlfriend, as a sign of a serious relationship. Depending on the campus, this can be equal to "pinning".

Legacy - The son, daughter or brother or sister of an initiated or alum member. Some organizations also include grandchildren or step children. Sorority rules sometimes dictate she cannot be cut from the first round of parties, but in no way are legacies guaranteed a bid from the organization they are a legacy to.

Letters - The first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the name of the fraternity or sorority are often displayed on clothing. For example, Chi Omega's letters are CW. Some organizations don't allow new members to wear letters (only the name spelled out), while others do.

Little/Lil - Nickname for a Big's new member that they mentor.

Line - An NPHC term somewhat equal to a pledge class. They are the potential new members of the organization. Lines are often given names.

Live In - Used to identify members that live inside the chapter house.

Local - A GLO which is not part of a national organization. Locals may have one chapter, or a few.

Mascot - A symbol, usually an animal, chosen to represent a Greek letter organization. Many organizations have symbols and mascots, such as Delta Gamma's anchor symbol and Hannah doll mascot.

MCGLO - Stands for Multi-Cultural Greek Letter Organization. These fraternities and sororities were created to be multi-cultural and focus on MC events.

Mismatch - When a potential new member's name fails to match any of her sorority preferences.

Mixer/Exchange - A party between a sorority and fraternity, often involving themes or games.

National - A sorority or fraternity's national headquarters. Usually erroneously called "national", as most organizations are international, having chapters outside of the US.

Neophyte - New member of an NPHC organization. Also called a Neo.

New Member - After receiving and accepting a Bid, the person becomes a new member. Formerly called a pledge (and still called a pledge in NIC fraternities). Sometimes called Associate Member.

New Member Pin - A distinctive badge worn on the chest designating a new member of a particular fraternity or sorority for the period of time between bid acceptance and initiation. Most organizations require the new member to return the new member pin at initiation in exchange for their member pin.

New Member Class - The group of new members that will be going through the New Member Program and Initiation together. Formerly called a pledge class, this term is still used among the fraternities.

New Member Educator - The liaison between the new members and the chapter, they are responsible for implementing and monitoring the new member program and preparing the new members for initiation.

New Member Program - The time period where the new member learns about their new sorority and fraternity before initiation. Lasts from Bids day until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period (and still called this in fraternities).

NIC - Stands for North American Interfraternity Conference, and is the national governing body of all the men's fraternities. It's rules are less strict than that of NPC concerning recruitment.

No Frills - Formal recruitment where costumes, elaborate food, skits, etc are forbidden at all or most rounds. Designed to let sororities recruit on a level playing field, so a sorority with more funding can not out decorate a sorority with a smaller budget. Also used to prevent over-spending on recruitment, which is usually a large portion of a sorority budget.

NPC - The National Panhellenic Conference is the organization that governs the 26 national women's sororities.

NPHC - The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the governing body of the 9 traditionally African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine Nine.

Open Motto - A short phrase that describes the purpose or outlook of a fraternity or sorority, and is available for all to read. Many organizations also have a Creed or Purpose in addition to an Open Motto, as well as a motto that is only for initiated members.

Order of Omega - An honor society for Greek members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and academic achievement.

Panhellenic Council/Panhel - The governing body of the sororities of a particular campus. The fraternity equivilant is IFC.

Perp - Someone who pretends to be a member of a fraternity or sorority, by wearing the letters, claiming they're a collegian etc. They will, and always do, get found out.

Philanthropy - A charity or fundraiser that the fraternity or sorority supports. Can be national or local or both.

Pinning - Term for a fraternity member giving his pin or a sweetheart pin to his girlfriend. Often a precursor to an engagement.

Pledge - See New Member

Potential New Member - A person who is interested in joining an Greek letter organization, and will participate in rush, intake, or recruitment. Formerly called rushees by sororities, term is still used by fraternities. Also abbreviated to PNM.

Potential New Alumnae Member - A person who has graduated college or university, or didn't have a chance to join a Greek organization, and wants to affiliate as an alum. Some organizations do not initiate non-collegiate members, others do only if the person has served the organization in some way, others actively recruit at the alum level. Also abbreviated to PNAM.

Preference - The final parties held by sororities during Recruitment. They are fancier than the previous parties and usually include a ritual that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref, or Final Dinners

Preference Cards - Potential new members sign this after the pref parties, indicating in order, which sororities of the ones whose parties they attended they liked the most. These cards, along with the sororities lists of members they would like, are used to match the PNM's and sororities with one another in a mutually selective process.

Prophyte - An older member of an NPHC organization.

Quota - A set number of new members a sorority can extend bids to. Quota is determined by taking the total number of potential new members at Pref (sometimes from the second round of invitational parties, depending on the school), and dividing by the number of sororities. For example, if there are 5 sororities on campus, and 100 girls on pref night, each sorority can take a maximum of 20 new members.

Quota Plus - Occurs when a sorority who gets quota during recruitment, but is not at total offers a snap bid.

Recolonize - Process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previous on campus, receives another charter for the same campus. Recolonization can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers, or had their charter revoked.

Retreat - A trip, or sometimes just a sleep over at the sorority house, where the members bond and get to know each other.

Ritual - A secret ceremony of a greek organization. Also, the formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the GLO was founded. Ritual elements are sacred to each sorority and fraternity and have been handed down through the generations. Only initiate members may be privy to rituals.

Rec - A recommendation, a letter sent by an alumna in good standing to the collegiate chapter where a PNM will be going through recruitment. The letter introduces the PNM to the chapter. Recs are very important at large Southern schools, and rarely heard of in other areas of the country, like the Pacific Northwest. Also known as a Reference.

Recruitment - The process where sororities and fraternities get new members. Potential new members tour each house, are invited to parties and choose the new members of their organization. The old term is rush, which is still used by the fraternities. The formal name is Formal Recruitment.

Recruitment Counselor - A sorority member who leads a recruitment group. During recruitment they disaffiliate from their sorority so that they will not bias the potential new members. Formerly known as rho chi's, the new official term is Sigma Rho Chi (Sorority Recruitment Counselor). Many campuses have their own term, such as Pi Chi (Panhellenic Counselor), Rho Gamma (Recruitment Guide), Rho Alpha (Recruitment Advisor), Gamma Chi (Greek Counselor), Greek Life Guide, Alpha Chi, Pi Rho Chi etc etc.

Rush - See Recruitment.

Rushee - See Potential New Member

Sands - An NPHC term for members of your new member class. Comes from the phrase "cross the burning sands" which means to cross over into full membership.

Silence/Hush Period/Strict Silence - The point from which recruitment starts until it ends, where no sisters in houses and PMN are allowed to speak about the details of recruitment.

Sister - Term that sorority members call each other.

Snap bid - A bid given to a PNM who was not placed during bid matching. The PNM would be on the sorority's list, but that PNM did not list the sorority on her bid card. Many schools will not allow someone who suicides to receive a snap bid. Some schools will allow a person who had to drop out of recruitment to receive a snap bid.

Soror - Term used by NPHC sorority members towards one another. Rarely used among NPC sororities.

Sorority - A Greek organization for women. Many of the 26 NPC sororities are actually called Fraternities, as many were created before the word sorority was coined. Despite this, most will call themselves sororities.

Step Show - A show performed by NPHC organizations (as well as other orgs). Also called Stepping.

Suicide - See Intentional Single Preference.

Sweetheart - Sorority member chosen to serve as Sweetheart of a fraternity, usually chosen because of work she's done with the fraternity.

Total/Ceiling - The maximum number of members a sorority can have. Sororities can only exceed ceiling during formal recruitment, if for example, taking quota would put them at 62 members and total is 60.

Wet Rush - A fraternity rush event that serves alcohol

Greek Alphabet
ALPHA (AL-fuh)
BETA (BAY-tuh)
GAMMA (GAM-uh)
DELTA (DEL-tuh)
EPSILON (EP-sil-on)
ZETA (ZAY-tuh)
ETA (AY-tuh)
THETA (THAY-tuh)
IOTA (eye-OH-tuh)
KAPPA (KAP-uh)
LAMBDA (LAM-duh)
MU (MYOO)
NU (NOO)
XI (KS-EYE)
OMICRON (OM-i-KRON)
PI (PIE)
RHO (ROW)
SIGMA (SIG-muh)
TAU (TAU)
UPSILON (OOP-si-LON)
PHI (FEE)
CHI (K-EYE)
PSI (SIGH)
OMEGA (oh-MAY-guh)

 

   


Penn State Fraternity & Sorority Life
209 Hub-Robeson Center
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Phone: (814) 863-8065