Fraternities and Sororities have many unique terms and abbreviations. The chart below outlines and defines some commonly used phrases in Fraternity/Sorority Life. Wether you are new to Fraternity/Sorority or just need a refresher - we hope this resource helps. To easily locate a specific councils language search AGC (Asian Greek Council), IFC (Interfraternity Council), MGC (Multicultural Greek Council), NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council), or PHC (Panhellenic Council)

Active See CollegianAll
AdvisorAn alumnus or alumna member who serves as a resource for the active chapter and liaison between the alums and collegians.All
Advisory BoardMembers of an alumni chapter that advises the chapter.All
AffiliateTo join with an organization. Colonies petition national organizations to affiliate with them. A member who switches schools may also affiliate with the chapter at his/her new school.All
AlumniMembers of a fraternity who have graduated. (Singular is alumnus)All
AlumnaeMembers of a sorority who have graduated. (Singular is alumna)All
Badge/PinAlso 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.All
BidAn invitation to join an IFC fraternity or NPC sorority. They are given out during formal recruitment (on Bid Day for sororities, at any time before the end of formal recruitment for fraternities). The NPHC and NALFO/NMGC process does not include bids.IFC, PHC
Bid DayThe last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a sorority.PHC
Bid Matching a system for matching the choice of the potential member with the choice of the chapterPHC
Big Nickname for big brother or sister, a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.All
BrotherTerm that fraternity members call each otherAll
ChapterA branch of a national sorority or fraternity, established at a campus. Each will have their own name, usually designated by Greek letters.All
Chapter HouseA house on campus where members of the organization reside. Not all campuses have chapter houses. Some have designated rooms given to each fraternity or sorority called Chapter Rooms, or a special residence hall where each group gets a floor.All
Chapter Meeting A meeting held to discuss fraternity or sorority businessAll
CharterPermission from the national organization to have a chapterAll
Collegian/Collegiate An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority currently in college. Formerly/also known as activeAll
CrossedThe date on which an associate member crossed into a fraternity or sorority to become an active member. Usually, a term used in culturally-centered Greek organizations. Typically used for AGC, MGC, and NPHC.AGC, MGC, NPHC
Depledge/DropThe process where a new member elects or is asked to relinquish membership during their process/initiation period. Those who depledge an NPC sorority may not begin a process with another sorority for one full calendar year.PHC
Dirty RushingWhen one organization will attempt to influence a potential new member through gifts, rumors, etc.PHC
DuesCharge for joining a fraternity or sorority. Covers costs of national and local operations, formal events, activities and other events. The amount varies based on the organization.All
ExpansionWhen an organization is looking to expand and open a chapter at a new school.PHC
Formal RecruitmentThe fully structured Spring Recruitment process for Panhellenic organizations in which all chapters participatePHC
Founder's 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.All
FraternityA group of people brought together because of mutual interests. Generally thought of as a group of men, but also refers to co-ed organizations and many sororities are officially fraternities.All
House CorpThe entity that holds the title to property that a chapter lives or meets in. This is usually an alumni group like an advisory board.IFC, PHC
House Director/House Mom/House Manager A person hired to live in the chapter house and supervise the chapter members.IFC, PHC
Inactive MemberA member who has elected to become inactive in fraternity or sorority life for various reasons. They have no say or participation in chapter/organization activities.All
InformationalRecruitment event for culturally based groups.AGC, MGC, NPHC
InitiateA person who has recently learned the ritual of a fraternity or sorority and is a full member.All
Initiation A ceremony where a pledge/prospective new member becomes a full member of the organization. Initiation ceremonies are private and different for all organizations.All
LegacyThe son, daughter, brother or sister of an organization’s member. Some organizations also include grandchildren or stepchildren. 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.All
LettersThe first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the name of the fraternity or sorority are often displayed on clothing. Some organizations don’t allow new members to wear letters (only the name spelled out), while others do.All
LineAn term equal to a pledge/new member class. They are the potential new members of the organization. Lines are often given names. AGC, MGC, NPHC
Little/Lil/(brother/sister) Nickname for a Big’s new member that they mentor.All
Mixer/Exchange/SocialA party between a fraternity and sorority, or several fraternities and sororities, often involving themes or games.All
National/National Office/HQA fraternity or sorority’s national headquarters. Usually erroneously called “national”, as most organizations are international, having chapters outside of the U.S.All
NeophyteNew member of Greek Letter organization; also called a ‘Neo’.AGC, MGC, NPHC
New MemberAfter receiving and accepting a bid, the person becomes a new member. Formerly called a pledge, sometimes called Associate Member.IFC,PHC
New Member (Pledge) Class (PC)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.All
New Member EducatorThe 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.All
New Member Program/PeriodThe time period where the new member learns about their new fraternity or sorority before initiation. Lasts from bid day until initiation. Formerly called pledge period (and still called this in fraternities).All
NumberThe number you are assigned based on the chronological order you are in on your initiation line (often members of other culturally based organizations identify or relate to one another by distinguishing that they are the “same” number).MGC, NPHC
Order of Omega An honor society for Greek members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and academic achievement.All
Paraphernalia/RegaliaThis is clothing, items and accessories which display the organization’s letters.NPHC
PinningDesignates the start of a new member process. The new member wears a fraternity/sorority pin and at the moment of pinning, officially becomes a new member. Can also be a term for a fraternity member giving their pin to a partner.IFC, PHC
PledgeSee New MemberAll
Potential New Member (PNM)A person who is interested in joining a Greek letter organization, and will participate in rush, intake or recruitment. Formerly called rushees by sororities, the term is still used by fraternities. Also abbreviated to PNM.IFC, PHC
Probate/Coming Out Show/New Member Presentation A performance by newly inducted or soon to be inducted members. A way for organizations to showcase the newest members of the organizationMGC, NPHC
Ritual A secret ceremony of a Greek organization. Also, the formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the organization was founded. Ritual elements are sacred to each fraternity and sorority and have been handed down through generations. Only initiated members may be privy to rituals.All
RecruitmentThe process where fraternities and sororities get new members. Potential new members tour each house, are invited to socials 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.IFC, PHC
RushSee Recruitment. Rush is an outdated word that was replaced in 1999 by recruitment. Rush referred to the practice of fraternities “rushing” to the train station to meet the newest members of the freshman class of a college or university and pinning their fraternity colors on the freshmen to identify them as a potential member of that fraternity.All
SororityA Greek organization for women. Many sororities are actually fraternities, as many were created before the word sorority was coined. Despite this, most will call themselves sororities.All
AGCStands for Asian Greek Council, and is the governing body of the AGC sororities and fraternities.AGC
IFCStands for Interfraternity Council, and is the governing body of the NIC fraternities, on some campuses local fraternities are housed under the IFC.IFC
LavaliereA necklace with the sorority letters, often worn by members. Lavaliering is a process where a fraternity member would give their lavaliere to a partner, as a sign of a serious relationship. Depending on the campus, this can be equal to “pinning”.IFC
NIC North-American Interfraternity Conference is the trade association representing 75 International and National Men’s Fraternities.IFC
Sweetheart Sorority member or other woman chosen to serve as a sweetheart of a fraternity, usually chosen because of work they have done with the fraternity. IFC
MGCthe Multicultural Greek Council, the umbrella council for Multicultural Greek OrganizationsMGC
Continuous Open Bidding (COB) Also known as COB. If a sorority does not reach the allowable membership total during formal recruitment or if they do not get quota, they may hold an informal recruitment and offer bids to potential new members.PHC
Intentional Single Preference (ISP)When a prospective member only puts down one on her preference card. This sometimes lessens the chances of her getting a bid, and isn’t recommended. Formerly called suiciding, but was changed to ISP because of the negative implications of the term.PHC
NPCThe National Panhellenic Conference is the organization that governs the 26 national women’s sororities.PHC
Panhellenic Council/PHCThe governing body of the NPC sororities of a particular campus.PHC
QuotaA set number of new members a sorority can extend bids to. Quota is determined by taking the total number of potential new members at Preference (sometimes from the second round of invitational parties, depending on the school), and dividing by the number of sororities. For example, if there are five sororities on campus, and 100 PNMs on preference night, each sorority can take a maximum of 20 new members.PHC
Recruitment Counselor (RC)A sorority member who leads a recruitment group (this is the practice of NPC). During recruitment, they disaffiliate from their sorority so that they will not bias the potential new members. PHC
Preference/PrefThe final event held by sororities during Recruitment. PHC
TotalThe maximum number of members a sorority can have. Sororities can only exceed total during formal recruitment, if for example, taking new members would put them at 180 members and total is 140. If a sorority has obtained quota during recruitment and is still below total, that sorority may continue to ask new members to join.PHC
AnchorThe last person of the line.NPHC
AceThe first person of the line.NPHC
Call/Chant A yell used mostly by NPHC organizations (although some NIC, NPC, NALFO, NMGC and local orgs have calls as well). Used to identify and greet brothers and sisters. Emulating a call/chant is a sign of disrespect.NPHC
"Divine 9" or D9A nickname for the nine historically African American Greek organizations on the National Pan-Hellenic Council.NPHC
Frater A term used to identify members of the same fraternity; sometimes used to refer to any fraternity man of an NPHC organization.NPHC
Intake/MIPTerm for the process by which NPHC members are selected to become new members of an organization. Much more secretive than recruitment or rush, but generally includes an application and an interview process, followed by an educational program done at the local level conducted by both undergraduates and alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”).NPHC
JewelA founder of an NPHC organization.NPHC
NPHCThe National Pan-Hellenic Council, the governing body of the nine historically African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine Nine.NPHC
On the Yard/Yard an NPHC phrase meaning that a chapter is currently chartered on campusNPHC
PearlA founder of an NPHC organization.NPHC
ProphyteA term used to describe an older member of an NPHC, NALFO or NMGC organization that has inducted new members.AGC, MGC, NPHC
SandsAn NPHC term for members of your new member class or Greeks who became members the same semester. Comes from the phrase “cross the burning sands” which means to cross over (become initiated) into full membership.NPHC
ShipIndividuals who are members of the same intake class. (Line)NPHC
SignA unique display expressed by hand symbols, typically by NPHC organizations. Emulating the sign is a sign of disrespect.NPHC
SorerMeans sister, this is a term used by NPHC sorority members to acknowledge one another. NPHC
Step ShowA show performed by NPHC, NALFO and NMGC organizations (as well as other organizations) which include a combination of stepping and strolling, among other activities.AGC, MGC, NPHC
Stepping is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps and handclaps.NPHC
Stroll"ing"Also known as ‘party walk(ing)’ An energetic, synchronized dance. Typically, NPHC Organizational members move together in a line expressing pride for their organization. In this line, members may express their pride through use of their organization’s call, sign or historical information, ritual/custom dances, etc. All of this is done through movements that are unique to a particular organization. Emulating or cutting in/through the line is considered a sign of disrespect.NPHC
TailThe last person of the line.NPHC