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Greek Glossary

Fraternity & Sorority Life

This page is to provide definitions of commonly used terms in the Fraternity & Sorority Community.

Please note, words with ** next to them, are typically related to UTC's Conduct Process.

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The first person in a new member line of an NPHC organization.

 Active Member

A fully initiated undergraduate member of a fraternity or sorority.



An initiated fraternity or sorority member who has been granted an alumni status. This typically occurs after a member graduates.

 Advisory Board

Members of an alumni chapter that advise the chapter.


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 member's 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.


A formal invitation given by a chapter asking a prospective member to join the chapter. The NPHC Process does not have bids.

 Bid Day

The last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a Panhellenic Sorority or IFC Fraternity. The NPHC Process does not have a Bid Day.


Nickname for big sister or brother, a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.


A yell used mostly by NPHC organizations. Used to identify and greet brothers and sisters. Non-members are not permitted to use the call.


 New Member

An individual who recently joined a fraternity or sorority.


A ceremony in which a member reveals having been given a lavaliere, fraternity pin, or engagement ring.


The local collegiate membership of a (inter)national fraternity or sorority. These are typically desginated with additional greek letters. For example, the Lambda Eta Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi. 

 Chapter Meeting

A weekly meeting held to discuss sorority or fraternity business.


Permission from the national organization to have a chapter.

 Charter Line

A founding line of an NPHC chapter

Closed Chapter**

A chapter which is no longer active or recognized on campus for things like low membership, debt owed to the (Inter)National Organization, or violations of either University or Organization Policies.



An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority currently in college. Also known as active.


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


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

 Continuous Open  Bidding (COB)

If a Panhellenic 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.


Insignia used by sorority and fraternity members. Each crest has hidden, secret meanings behind it. Also known as a coat of arms or shield.


The term for NPHC members who have been initiated or have been inducted into full membership of the organization. Comes from the phrase "cross the burning sands" which means to cross over (become initiated) into full membership.

 Charter Day

An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization here at UTC and celebrate its history on campus. 


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

 Dirty Rushing

When one organization will attempt to influence a potential new member through gifts, bad mouthing other organizations, etc.  


When a member removes his or her association from his or her chapter.



When a member temporarily removes his or her association from his or her chapter, usually during Panhellenic formal recruitment

 Discplinary  Probation**

A group found responsible for a Code of Conduct violation that does not warrant suspension can be placed on Discplinary Probation. This includes sanctions such as no events with alcohol or educational workshops for the organization. 

 Divine Nine

Term used to describe the nine NPHC affiliate organizations. Also the title of the book that chronicles the history of NPHC groups.

 Dropping Line

Term used by NPHC in referring to a new member removing themselves from the intake process.

 Dry Rush/

 Dry Recruitment

A rush or recruitment event with no alcohol. Please note, rush and recruitment events are intended to be dry and a rush or recruitment event with alcohol may be a violation of the oganizaton's (inter)national and/or University policies.


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


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

 Formal  Recruitment 

The process where sororities and fraternities get new members. Potential new members tour each house, are invited to recruitment events. and the chapters choose the new members of their organization. 

 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.


The original members of a (inter)national fraternity or sorority when the organization was first created.  

 Founding Member/

 Charter Member

The orignial members of a fraternity or sorority when the organization was created at UTC.


A nickname for fraternity or a fraternity brother.  IFC members generally find this to be offensive; however NPHC fraternities use it as a mark of respect for each other.

 Fraternal  Organization

Any fraternity or sorority.


A 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 Women's Fraternities.


Fraternity and Sorority Advisor. This is typically the term used to describe University staff members who work with the Fraternity and Sorority Community.


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

 Greek Show

An organized dance competition for our fraternities and sororities.


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


A unique display expressed by hand symbols by Greek members. Can be “thrown” alone or in combination with other members of the group.


"No hazing in any form is permitted. Hazing is defined at UTC as any action or situation created intentionally, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities include, but are not limited to: paddling in any form, road trips, excessive fatigue, morally degrading or humiliating activities, stunts involving unwilling outside participants, and cutting of hair. Emphasis is placed instead on instruction in the ideals of the fraternity and service to the University and its community." - UTC Student Handbook

 House Cooperation

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.


Stands for Interfraternity Council, and is the governing body of the usually North American Interfraternity Council (NIC) fraternities on a particular campus.

 Inactive Chapter

A chapter which is no longer active or recognized on campus for things like low membership, debt owed to the (Inter)National Organization, or violations of either University or Organization Policies.

 Inactive Member

A member who has  become inactive in sorority or fraternity life either voluntarily or because they violated the policies of the Organization. They have no say or participation in chapter activities.


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


The first ceremony new members are a part of welcoming them into the organization. Typically happens the day of or day after a bid or Invitation of Membership is accepted. See also Pinning.

 Interest Meeting

A meeting hosted by NPHC for prospective members to receive information about and meet members of a Greek organization.


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


Term 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 regional level conducted by alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”).


Line Brother/Line Sister. Members of the same line in NPHC organizations


The son, daughter, brother, or sister of an initiated or alumni member. Some organizations also include grandchildren or step children. 


Nickname for a Big's new member that they mentor.


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


A symbol, usually an animal, chosen to represent a Greek letter organization. 

 Membership  Recruitment  Acceptance Binding  Agreement  (MRABA)

A signed card by a potential new member after the last Panhellenic recruitment event, indicating the potential new member’s preference of the chapters she attended in the last round.

Membership Review**

A term used by (Inter)National Organizations to describe a process in which the (Inter)National Organization interviews all current active members and decides the future of their membership status. 


A party between a sorority and fraternity, or several fraternities and sororities, often involving themes.

 Mutual Selection

The process of chapters and PNMs matching to in order to bid them for Panhellenic organizations.


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. 

 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 individual(s) who are elected to teach the new members or candidates about the organization and to guide them through their New Member Education time.

 New Member  Education

The time period where the new member learns about their new sorority and fraternity before initiation. Lasts from Bid day until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period or pledging (and still called this in some fraternities).


Stands for North American Interfraternity Conference, and is the national coordinating body of all the men's fraternities. It does not enforce policies on the local IFC’s, and is totally different from the purpose of NPC and NPHC. For more information on the NIC, please visit their website here.


The National Panhellenic Conference is the organization that governs the 26 national women's sororities. For more information on the NPC, please visit their website here.


The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the (inter)national and local governing body of the 9 horstically African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine Nine. For more information on the NPHC, please visit their website here.

 On the Yard

An NPHC phrase meaning that a chapter is currently chartered on campus.

 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.

 Panhellenic Association / Council

The governing body of the Panhellenic sororities of a particular campus. 


The term used to describe each time a woman visits a Panhellenic sorority during Formal Recruitment. (In each round of recruitment, there are multiple parties)


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


The first ceremony new members are a part of welcoming them into the organization. Typically happens the day of or day after a bid of Invitation of Membership is accepted. See also InductionCan also be the term for a fraternity member giving his pin or a sweetheart pin to his girlfriend. Often a precursor to an engagement.


See New Member

 Potential New  Member (PNM)

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. 


The final parties held by Panhellenic sororities during Recruitment. They are fancier than the previous parties and usually include a ceremony that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref.

 Probate/New  Member  Presentation

Event where newly initiated members of an NPHC group perform step routines and reveal themselves to the public after their intake period.


A term used to describe members who have previouisly crossed.


A set number of new members a Panhellenic sorority can extend bids to. Quota is determined by taking the total number of potential new members at Preference, and dividing by the number of sororities. For example, if there are 5 sororities on campus, and 100 girls on pref night, each quota would be 20 new members.

 Quota Additions

Women who are matched to their preference for sororities if they have maximized their choices throughout the formal sorority recruitment process.  


Process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously 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 and was removed from campus.

 Recommendation  Letter (Rec Letter)

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 perceived to be very important at large Southern schools, but they are rarely heard of in other areas of the country, like the Pacific Northwest. Recommendations can be thought of as extra credit in Pahellenic sorority recruitment – they are definitely not required, but they won't hurt you if you have them. Also known as a Reference.


The process where sororities and fraternities get new members. Potential new members tour each house, are invited to recruitment events, and the chapters 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. At UTC they're called Pi Chi's


A chapter was found during a conduct investigation to have done what allegations were brought against them from a report sent to the University


A trip to an off campus location or another campus to visit another chapter, or sometimes just a sleep over at the house, where the members bond and get to know each other.


A secret ceremony of a Greek organization. Also, the formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the greek letter organization 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.


See 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.  We don't "rush" anymore.


The terms of probation when a chapter is placed on Discplinary Probation. Organizations must complete all sanctions and other terms of probation in order to be removed from Discplinary Probation when the probationary status ends, as stated in the organization's conduct letter. 


An NPHC term for members of your new member class or line. Comes from the phrase "cross the burning sands" which means to cross over (become initiated) into full membership.

 Single Intentional  Preference (SIP)

When a potential member only lists one Panhellenic sorority on her preference card when she has several options. Some call it “suicide bidding” but is no longer the correct verbiage.

Preponderance of  Evidence**

Similar to a court of law, UTC requires evidence to put an organization on Discplinary Probation or to suspend them. Unlike a court of law, UTC only required 51% beyond reasonable doubt, where a court required 99%. 

 Strict Silence

The point from which in Panhellenic Formal Recruitment when Preference ends until Bid Day, where no sisters in houses and PNM's are allowed to speak about the details of recruitment.


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 Panhellenic sorority's list, but that PNM did not list the sorority on her bid card. 


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


A Greek Letter Organization for women. Many of the 26 NPC sororities are actually fraternities, as many were created before the word sorority was coined. Despite this, most will call themselves sororities.


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, spoken word, and hand claps. Through stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups, often in arrangements that resemble military formations. It is disrespectful for non-NPHC members to participate in stepping. 

 Step Show

A show performed by NPHC organizations where chapters perform various step routines. It is disrespectful for non-NPHC members to participate in stepping. See also stepping.


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. It is disrespectful for non-NPHC members to participate in strolling. 


A chapter which is no longer active or recognized on campus. This is commonly seen for violations of either University or Organization Policies.


Sorority member or other woman chosen to serve as sweetheart of a fraternity, usually chosen because of work she's done with the fraternity.


The last person in a new member line of an NPHC organization. 


The maximum number of members a Panhellenic sorority can have. Panhellenic 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. 

 Unanimous  Agreements

96 rules that all 26 National Panhellenic Organizations have voted on and agreed to uphold. All chapters must adhere to these.


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This information was adapted from University of South Carolina's Greek Glossary at and The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Greek Glossary