Greek Life Glossary

Active: an undergraduate man or woman who is a full-time student and participating in his/her fraternity or sorority.

Advisor: an alumnus or alumna member who serves as a resource for the active chapter and liaison between the alums and collegians.

Advisory Board: members of an alumni chapter who advise the collegian chapter.

Affiliate: means “to 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.

Alumni (men)/Alumnae (women): more than one alumnus/alumna.

Alumnus (man)/Alumna (woman): an initiated member that has graduated from college or who belongs to a graduate chapter.

Badge: also known as a ‘pin’ to some organizations. It is an item of jewelry given to members upon initiation. The badge is to be worn at all official Chapter 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 membership in IFC / NPC / NPHC organizations. They are given out during formal recruitment (on Bid Day for Panhellenic and Bid Night for IFC). The NPHC process does not include bids.

Bid Day/Night: the last day of recruitment in which potential new members/new members receive formal invitations to join a sorority/fraternity.

Big: nickname for a big sister or brother, a mentor assigned to all new members. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.

Brother/Sister: a term used by an active or new member when referring to another active or new member.

Call: a yell used mostly by NPHC organizations used to identify and greet frats and sorors. For example, Alpha Kappa Alpha’s call is SKEE-WEE. non-members are not permitted to use the call.

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

Chapter: the local collegiate or graduate group of a national fraternity or sorority.

Chapter Meeting: typically a weekly meeting held to discuss  sorority or fraternity business.

Charter: the official document recognizing a chapter’s status by the national organization.

Colony: status of a new chapter before installation.

Colors: the official pair or triad of colors that represent a specific Greek organization.

Continuous Open Bid (COB)/Open Bid: if a Panhellenic sorority does not reach the allowable membership total during formal recruitment or if they do not reach quota, they may hold an informal recruitment, and offer bid to potential new members. IFC groups offer Open Bids to potential members during informal recruitment.

Crest: insignia used by Greek organizations. Each crest has hidden, secret meaning and may also be known as a coat of arms or shield.

Dues: the charge of joining a Greek organizations. Typically covers the costs of Chapter operations, formal events, activities, and other member activities.

Expansion: when a Chapter’s National Headquarters is looking to expand and open a chapter at new school.

Formal Recruitment: see Recruitment.

Frat: NPHC term used to refer to one’s fraternity or a fraternity brother.

Greek: a term applied to members affiliated with Greek-letter social organizations.

Greek Week: an organized week of activities specifically held to unite all Councils and their Chapters.

Handshake: a special handshake unique to each organization that only initiated members will know. May be known as a ‘Grip.’

Informal Recruitment: see Recruitment.

Initiation: a formal ceremony in which a new member becomes an initiated member.

Intake: the period of training before initiation when NPHC new members learn the history and traditions of the organization and bonds with his/her chapter.

Interfraternity Council (IFC): the governing body of Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Interest Meeting: meeting for prospective members to receive information about and meet members of a Greek organization.

Lavaliere: a necklace with 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, which was made known to the girlfriend’s sorority via ‘Candlelight.’

Legacy: a prospective member whose parent, grandparent or sibling is an alumna/alumnus or an initiated member of a Greek organization.

Letters: the first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the name of the fraternity or sorority are often displayed on apparel. For example, Delta Sigma Theta’s letters are DST. Note that some organization’s do not allow new member to wear letters (only the organization’s name spelled out), while others do.

Line: a group of new members in a specific NPHC chapter in a specific semester.

Little: nickname for a Big’s new member who they mentor.

Mixer/Exchange/Social: a party between a sorority and fraternity, or several fraternities and sororities, often involving themes or games.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): the governing body of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma.

National Panhellenic Council (NPC): the governing body of Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Delta, and Phi Mu.

Neophyte: new member of an NPHC organization. Also called a Neo.

New Member: a new member in a specific chapter who has not been initiated.

On the Yard: an NPHC phrase meaning that a chapter is currently chartered on campus.

Order of Omega: a national honor society that recognizes and promotes Greek leadership and scholarship.

Philanthropy: a charity or fundraiser that an organization supports. Can be national or local or both. For example, Delta Delta Delta’s philanthropy is St. Jude’s Children’s Medical Research Hospital.

Potential New Member (PNM): a non-Greek man or woman participating in the IFC / NPC recruitment process.

Probate/Probate Show: an event where newly initiated members of an NPHC group perform step routines and reveal themselves to the public after their intake period.

Prophyte: an older member of an NPHC organization.

Quota: a set number of new members a Panhellenic sorority may extend bids.

Recruitment: designed for the membership selection and is a mutual selection process for potential members and chapters, may occur in the Formal or Informal process.

Recruitment Counselor: a member of an NPC sorority that has disaffiliated from her chapter during Recruitment Week to assist students interested in joining an NPC organization.

Soror: NPHC term referring to one’s sorority sister.

Stepping/Step Show: a tradition of NPHC organizations where entertaining synchronized movements and routines are performed.

Total: the maximum number of members a Panhellenic sorority may have.