Greek Glossary

To help you understand some of the most commonly used Greek community terms, we've compiled a list from multiple sources. It is not exhaustive and not all terms are used by all groups or campuses.


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

Active: An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority. A member in good standing.

Alumna/Alumnus: An initiated member who has graduated. Female and male, respectively. Singular. (Alumnae/Alumni are plural.)

Alumni/Alumnae Chapters: All national organizations have chapters that individuals can be involved in after their collegiate days are over.

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

Associate/New Member: A member of a fraternity or sorority not yet initiated.


Badge (Pin): Outward symbol of membership, usually in the way of a pin or badge given to members when initiated. Many organizations also have new member pins.

Bid: An invitation to a potential member to join a sorority and fraternity.

Big Brother/Big Sister: An active who befriends and becomes like an older brother/sister to a new member.


Calls: A unique vocal expression attributed by a culturally based fraternity or sorority an organization.

Please Do: Enjoy listening to the unique calls of the groups.
Please Don’t: Repeat an organization’s particular call or response. It is considered a sign of disrespect.

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

Chapter: The name applied to the local organization of a national fraternity or sorority.

Charter: The document from a headquarters to a chapter that indicates the group of students on that campus are members of the inter/national organization.

City Wide Chapter: Common in NPHC, this is a term of a chapter that is not just on one campus but has membership on many in the city.

Collegiate Panhellenic Council (CPC): The cooperative campus organization of collegiate members of NPC sororities.

Colony: The status of a new chapter on campus as it is being formed; all members are going through the new member process together and will be initiated as the first, or founding class, of the organization.

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

Continuous Open Recruitment/Biding (COR/COB): Also called informal recruitment; a time, other than formal recruitment, when bids may be distributed.

Crest: Insignia used by sorority/fraternity members. Most Greek organizations reserve the crest for initiated members only. Each crest has hidden, secret meanings. Also known as a coat of arms or shield.

Crossing: A term used by NPHC groups to indicate that a new member has been fully initiated; you may also hear the phrase “crossing the burning sands.”


Depledge: To terminate one’s fraternity or sorority membership before initiation.

Disaffiliate: When a member temporarily removes his or her association from his or her chapter, usually during formal recruitment time.

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: An event is alcohol free.

Dues: Charge of joining a fraternity or sorority. Covers costs of operation, formal events, activities and other events; varies by chapter.


Event/Round: A structured recruitment event, usually repeated several times during formal recruitment. Was previously referred to as a “party,” but we are trying to remove that language.

Exchange: A social activity involving two or more Greek organizations; also called a social.


Formal Recruitment: A designated membership recruitment time period during which a series of organized activities are held by each sorority and fraternity — or governed by CPC/IFC. Usually occurs in the Fall Semester; Informal Recruitment occurs in the spring. For the Collegiate Panhellenic Council this is also called Primary Recruitment.

Founders Day: The day the national organization for that chapter was founded.

Frat: Term used to refer to a fraternity or one’s fraternity brother, usually in NPHC fraternities.

Fraternal Organization: Any fraternity or sorority.

Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA): The area of the Office of Student Involvement that oversees the social fraternity and sorority community.


Greek: N; Any member of a social fraternity or sorority. Adj; Greek Community/Greek Life.


Handshake: Each organization has a handshake unique to them. Only initiated members will know this handshake.

Hazing: Hazing is strictly prohibited in the State of Missouri and by the university. Hazing is defined as any willful act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, directed against a student or a prospective member of an organization operating under the sanction of an educational institution, that recklessly endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student or prospective member for the purpose of initiation or admission into or continued membership in any such organization. Acts of hazing include, but are not limited to:

Any activity that recklessly endangers the physical health or safety of the student or prospective member, including but not limited to physical brutality, whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of food, liquor, drug or other substance.

Any activity that endangers the mental health of the student or prospective member, including but not limited to sleep deprivation, physical confinement or other extreme stress-inducing activity.

Any activity that requires the student or prospective member to perform a duty or task which involves a violation of the criminal laws of this state or any political subdivision in this state.

Hazing is a class C Felony.


Interfraternity Council (IFC): A representative governing body of fraternities affiliated with the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

Inactive Member: A member who has elected to become inactive in sorority/fraternity life. They have no say or participation in chapter activities and lose the benefits of membership.

Initiation: A ritual ceremony through which new members learn the full meaning of their Greek organization.

Initiated Member: Any member who has gone through the initiation ceremony.

Intake/Membership Intake: 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 and then an initiation. The period of membership intake varies from chapter to chapter but cannot exceed 10 weeks.

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


Jewell: A founding member of an NPHC organization. Also sometimes known as pearl.


Lavaliere: A necklace with Greek letters on it hung only in the vertical. Sometimes given out to a significant other to signify a special romantic relationship.

Legacy: A person whose parent, sibling or grandparent is an alumna or active member of a sorority or fraternity.

Line, also referred to as Ship: A group of new members in a specific NPHC chapter, in a specific semester.

LB: Line Brother

LS: Line Sister


Matriculated: However the university defines a full time student. A woman must be fully matriculated in order to get through recruitment and join the chapter.

Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement (MRABA): A signed card by a potential new member after the last Panhellenic recruitment event; indicates the potential new member’s preference of the chapters she attended in the last round.

Mutual Selection: The process of chapters and PNMs matching in order to bid them for CPC organizations.


National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO): The national umbrella organization for the Latino/Latina Greek organizations.

Neophyte: New member of an NPHC organization; also called a “Neo.”

North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): National confederation of 66 men’s fraternities.

National Panhellenic Council (NPHC): The national governing body for the nine historically African-American sororities and fraternities.

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC):  The conference body of the 26 women’s sororities established in 1902 to support the collegiate and alumnae chapters of the NPC member groups.

New Member: A person who has accepted an invitation to a chapter and has not yet been initiated.


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

Order of Omega: National honor society that recognizes and promotes Greek leadership and scholastics.

Open Recruitment: Membership selection process that occurs throughout the academic year; also known as continuous open bidding (COB or COR).


Panhellenic Council (CPC): The governing organization that promotes and represents sororities belonging to the National Panhellenic Conference.

Philanthropy: A charitable project sponsored by a fraternity or sorority. Each National organization has a formally recognized philanthropy.

Potential New Member (PNM): A student who is interested in becoming a member of a Greek organization and has registered for the formal recruitment process. Used in Panhellenic sororities.

New Member Presentation: Event where newly initiated members of a culturally based fraternity or sorority perform step routines or strolls and reveal themselves to the public after their membership intake period.

Prophyte: An older member of an NPHC organization.


Quota: The number each NPC women’s fraternity may pledge on a campus during the formal recruitment process. This number varies each year.


Recommendation Letters: A letter written by alumnae members of sororities recommending a potential member for membership. Not a requirement for membership into a sorority.

Release: The term used by a PNM to not accept an invitation by a sorority — or used by the sorority when a PNM has not been invited. Being “released” completely from recruitment ideally means a potential new member no longer has invitations to sorority events.

Release Figures: The method used by NPC for all chapters on a campus to match to quota at the end of the formal recruitment process. Based on three years of past data and live data from the present year.

Rho Gamma: Panhellenic members who disaffiliate their own chapter during recruitment and are available to guide potential new members through the recruitment process.

Ritual: Sacred, secret and inspirational ceremonies used to encourage and educate members about the importance of the organization.

Roll Call: Common at NPHC events. Each organization present is announced and given a short amount of time to do their call.


Sands: NPHC term referring to a member that crossed/was initiated the same semester and year as yourself — though they do not have to belong to the same organization. Comes from the phrase “cross the burning sands” which means to cross over (become initiated) into full membership.

Ship (SS): Members who are in the same line for an NPHC organization.

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

Please do: Enjoy the viewing of the various signs.
Please don’t: Emulate an organization’s sign. It is a sign of disrespect

Single Preference/Intentional Single Preference: When a potential member only lists one NPC sorority on her preference card when she has several options. Some call it “suicide bidding,” but is no longer the correct verbiage for this act.

Snap Bidding: The direct offering of a bid from a chapter to a potential member between the time women are matched through the process and new member bid day activities begin during Panhellenic formal recruitment.

Social: A get-together with another group for a party, dinner or other fun occasion.

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

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. Though stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups of three or more, often in arrangements that resemble military formations.

Strolling: NPHC 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.

Please Do: Enjoy watching, as each organization has a unique way and style of strolling.
Please Don’t: Emulate the stroll or cut in between members of the line. That is considered a sign of disrespect.


Total: The allowable chapter size, as determined by the College Panhallenic Council, including both new members and initiated members.


Unanimous Agreements: Ninety-six rules that all 26 NPC chapters have voted on and agreed to uphold. All chapters must adhere to these.