It’s All Greek

Greek Dictionary

Active– the exact meaning of this term varies from group to group, but generally it means an undergraduate who currently pays dues and participates in chapter events.

Alumnus/Alumna- a member who has graduated. Alumnus is the masculine, alumna the feminine.

Alumni/alumnae/alumna– the plurals of alumnus and alumna, respectively. When both men and women are meant, alumni is the term most often used, although alumna is also appropriate (it’s the Latin neuter plural).

Badge – the symbol worn by an initiated member of a Greek organization. see also pin

Basileus-synonym for the chapter president used by some NPHC groups.

Bid – a formal invitation to join a Greek organization.

Big Brother/Big Sister– an initiated member of an organization paired with an uninitiated member to help them through the member education period. Often referred to as a ‘Big’.

Call– a sound used by NPHC members to acknowledge one another.

Cane-a popular NPHC fraternity icon.

Crossed -the date of initiation into an NPHC organization.

Chapter– the smallest self-supporting unit of a Greek organization. Chapters may be part of a national organization, or may exist on their own. see also national, local.

Colony– a group petitioning to form a new chapter.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB)– A process in which a woman can be offered a bid after formal rush.

Divine Nine-used to refer to the nine NPHC organizations.

Dry– alcohol-free.

Formal recruitment– a period of time during which chapters select their new members through a formal process. At UMass Amherst, the Panhellenic Council has a formal recruitment period. see also Panhellenic Council.

Fraternity– a Greek letter organization, which may admit men, women, or both. Although many people use ‘fraternity’ to refer exclusively to men’s groups, many women’s groups officially call themselves fraternities, and the most proper term for them is Women’s Fraternities.

(The word comes from the French ‘fraternité’, which means ‘comradery’, rather than ‘brotherhood’. Until this century, it maintained its original meaning in English as well.)

Greek Week– a week in the spring semester (generally the last week of April) when all campus Greek organizations celebrate the positive aspects of Greek life, through concerts, games, and other activities.

Hazing-mental or physical harm done to a new member of an organization. Hazing is a felony in most states.

Inactive – an undergraduate member of a chapter not currently participating. see also active

Informal recruitment – a continuous, open recruitment period with no specific activities of rushing and pledging. At UMass, the Interfraternity Council has informal recruitment. see also Interfraternity Council

Interfraternity Council – the governing council for men’s fraternities. All fraternity chapters whose national organizations belong to the North-American Interfraternity Conference are members, as well as all local men’s groups. The Council negotiates disputes between chapters, sets general guidelines for its member chapters, and organizes Greek events, like Greek Week.

Initiate – someone who has gone through a Greek organization’s initiation ceremony.

Legacy – someone whose mother, father, brother, sister, etc., belonged to a particular Greek organization.

Local – a Greek organization with only one chapter.

Line -The members of a NPHC new member class.

Multi-Cultural Greek Council– the governing council for Asian, Latina/Latino, and Multi-Cultural organizations, for both men and women.

National/international – a Greek organization with many chapters, which have a single governing body. Chapters belonging to national organizations generally have chapter letters, as well as national letters- for instance.

National Pan-Hellenic Council– the governing council for traditionally African-American organizations, for both men and women.

New member – someone who has accepted a bid to join a Greek organization, but has not yet been initiated.

New member period – the time between the acceptance of a bid and initiation. Chapters generally take this time to educate their new members in the organization’s history and traditions.

Panhellenic Council – the governing council for NPC sororities.

Para -short for Greek paraphenalia.

Pin– the use of this term varies from group to group. It can mean the same thing as a badge. It can also mean a symbol worn by a new member until their initiation.

Pledge – an older term for new member.

Potential New Member – A college woman who participates in recruitment.

Probate – Official public display of initiation in the form of a step.

Prophyte – a neophyte becomes a prophyte when he/she has participated in the initiation of new members.

Recruitment counselor – an initiated member of a sorority who guides potential new members through formal recruitment.

Ritual– the sacred ceremonies practiced by every chapter of a Greek letter organization. Generally secret.

Recruitment – a series of events offering members and potential members the opportunity to get to know each other.

Rush– an older term for recruitment that is no longer used. Replaced with Recruitment.

Soror – a fellow member of an NPHC sorority.

Sorority– a Greek letter organization, which admits only women. The term did not come into common use until later in the 20th century. See also Fraternity.

Stroll– A line dance done by members of NPHC.

Yard – campus.

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