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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.
For a full glossary of conduct related terms, please clich here.

To see the Greek Alphabet please click here.

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Term

Definition

 Ace

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

 Active Member

A fully initiated undergraduate member in good standing of a fraternity or sorority.

 Alumnus/Alumnae/ 

 Alumni

An initiated fraternity or sorority member who has been granted an alumni status.

 Advisory Board

Alumni members or other volunteers that advise the chapter.

 Badge

Also known as a pin, it is an item of jewelry given to members upon Initiation. The badge should be worn with business-like attire, usually over the heart and above all other pins.

 Bid

A formal invitation given by an Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic, or Special Interest chapter asking a prospective member to join the chapter. 

 Bid Day

The last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a Panhellenic Sorority or IFC Fraternity. 

 Big

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

 Call

Audible sounds used by members of NPHC chapters to identify and greet other members. Non-members are not permitted to use the call.

 Candidate/

 New Member

An individual who recently joined a fraternity or sorority but has not yet been Initiated.

 Candlelight

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

 Chapter

The local collegiate membership of a (inter)national fraternity or sorority. These are typically designated 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.

 Charter

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A chapter which is no longer active or recognized on campus due to low membership, debt owed to the (Inter)National Organization, or violations of either University or Organization Policies.

 Collegian/

 Collegiate

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

 Colors

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

 Colony

A new organization that has been invited to a campus and is awaiting official recognition from their (Inter)National Organization.

 Continuous Open  Recruitment (COR)

If a Panhellenic Sorority does not reach the allowable membership total during formal recruitment, they may hold an informal recruitment, and offer bids to potential new members.

 Crest

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

 Crossing

The term for NPHC members who have been initiated or have been inducted into full membership of the organization. 

 Charter Day

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

 Dirty Rushing

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

 Disaffiliate

The process where a member, new member, or candidate elects, or is asked, to relinquish membership. 

 Dissociate/

 Dissociation 

The time in which Panhellenic Recruitment Counselors (known as Pi Chi's) step away from their chapter membership to assist the women going through Panhellenic Formal Recruitment in an unbiased manner.

Disciplinary  Probation**

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

 Divine Nine

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is an organization made up of nine historically Black sororities and fraternities, and is often referred to as the “Divine 9.” Many of the Divine 9 members were founded during the early 20th century was established mostly at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Many of these institutions began as civic action groups in response to the pressing society demands at that time. They were seen as embodiments of the students’ initiative to contribute to the academic and political development of their school.

 Dropping Line

Term used by NPHC in referring to a candidate 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 organization's (Inter)National and/or University policies.

 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.

 Formal  Recruitment 

The process where Panhellenic sororities and IFC fraternities get to know potential new members who are interested in their organizations.

 Founders Day

An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history. 

 Founder

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

 Founding Member/

 Charter Member

The original undergraduate members of a fraternity or sorority when the organization was established on a campus.

 Frat

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

 Fraternity

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.

 FSA

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

 Greek Show

An organized dance competition for our fraternities and sororities where proceeds are donated to a philanthropic organization.

 Handshake

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

 Hand sign

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

 Hazing

"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 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 or other volunteers.

 IFC

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 due to 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 a sorority or fraternity, either voluntarily or because they violated the policies of the Organization. 

 Initiate

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

 Induction

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.

 Initiation

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

 LB/LS

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

 Legacy

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

 Little

Nickname for little sister or brother, a mentee who is assigned an active member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.

 Line

An NPHC term similar to an IFC or Panhellenic pledge class. They are the potential new members of the organization. Lines are often given names.

 Mascot

A symbol, usually an animal, chosen to represent a fraternity or sorority. 

 

 Membership Intake

Term for the process by which NPHC members are selected to become new members of an organization. Includes an application and an interview process.

 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. 

 Mixer/Social

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

  Motto

 

A short phrase that describes the purpose or outlook of a fraternity or sorority, and can be available for all to read. Many organizations also have a Creed or Purpose in addition to a motto.

 Mutual Selection

The process in which Panhellenic chapters and PNMs rank each other to determine who will make up a chapter's new member class.

 Neophyte/Neo

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

 New Member / Pledge

After receiving and accepting an invitation of membership, 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 / Dean of  Pledges

The individual(s) who are elected or appointed 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).

 NIC

Stands for North-American Interfraternity Conference, and is the national coordinating body of 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.

 NPC

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.

 NPHC

The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the (inter)national and local governing body of the 9 historically 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 recognized on campus by the University.

 Panhellenic Association / Council

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

 Parties

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)

 Philanthropy

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

 

Pi Chi

A Panhellenic sorority member who leads a recruitment group. During recruitment they dissociate from their sorority so that they will not bias the potential new members. 

 Pinning

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.

 Potential New  Member (PNM)

A person who is interested in joining an Greek letter organization, and will participate in rush, or recruitment. Formerly called rushees by sororities, term is still used by fraternities. 

 Preference

The final parties held by Panhellenic sororities during Recruitment. They are more formal 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 organization present history of the organization, reveal their identity, and often step.

 Prophyte

A term used to describe members who have previously crossed and have neophytes.

 Quota

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. 

 Recolonize

Process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus receives a charter for the same campus again. 

 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. Also known as a Reference.

 Recruitment

The process where Panhellenic sororities and IFC fraternities get to know potential new members who are interested in their organizations. Also known as Formal Recruitment.

 Responsible**

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

 Retreat/Road trip

A trip to an off campus location, another campus to visit another chapter, or sometimes just a sleep over, where the members bond and get to know each other. University and (Inter)National Organization policies are to be upheld. 

 Ritual

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 Initiated members may be privy to rituals.

 Rush

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.

 Sanctions**

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

 Sands

An NPHC term for members of your new member class or line. 

 Single Intentional  Preference (SIP)

When a potential new member only lists one Panhellenic sorority on her preference card when she has several options. Please note that by not listing the maximum number of events you attended you may be limiting your potential to join any other NPC organization during this recruitment period should you not be placed with your choice(s). 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 Disciplinary 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.

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

 Soror

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

 Sorority

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

 Stepping 

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.

 Strolling

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. 

 Suspended**

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

 Tail

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

 Total

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 https://www.sa.sc.edu/fsl/greek-glossary/ and The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Greek Glossary http://info.umkc.edu/getinvolved/fsa/glossary/
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