Greek Terms

As you learn more about fraternity and sorority life, you’ll want to get acquainted with these frequently used terms.

Active: A person who has been formally initiated by a chapter.

Alumni: An initiated member who has graduated from college.

Badge: The pin of an initiated member.

Bid: A formal invitation to join a chapter.

Big Brother/Sister: Active member assigned to be the personal mentor for a new member

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

Charter: Documentation that an individual chapter is recognized and operates according to the national organization.

Colony: A newly formed affiliate of a national organization that has not yet received its charter; the organizing members of a colony are often referred to as founders.

Continuous Open Bidding: Process of extending bids on an individual basis that begins immediately following the formal recruitment program.

Crossed: The term NPHC groups use for being initiated. It means different things to different groups, but generally means crossing over from being a pledge to being a full member.

Financial: Term used to refer to an active member. (Ex. Someone paying dues)

Formal Sorority Recruitment: A membership recruitment period during which a series of organized rounds are held by each National Panhellenic Conference sorority, organized and implemented by the Panhellenic Council.

Fraternity: A group of men or women who are bound together by rituals, beliefs, common goals.

Greek 101: A program to educate new members about Greek Life at YSU, responsibilities of being Greek and current issues facing college students.

Hand Sign: Used to identify members of the same organization. Most have a deep meaning to that organization or ritualistic symbol.

Initiation: A formal ceremony in which a new member begins full membership.

IFC: Interfraternity Council, the coordinating governing body of fraternities. IFC operates under the affiliation requirements of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). Informational: Recruitment event for culturally based groups.

Intake: The process several chapters perform to recruit, interview, choose, and educate new members.

Interest: Title of a potential new member who the group knows is interested. Sometimes these students will band together and form an interest group.

Lavaliere: A pendant with a fraternity or sorority’s Greek letters on it. Sorority members usually receive their chapter’s lavaliere at the time of initiation.

Legacy: Someone whose family member was an affiliate of a particular Greek-letter organization; each organization determines legacies differently, but may include mother/father, sister/brother, aunt/uncle, or grandmother/grandfather.

Line Name: The name given to a pledge class. Some groups do number their lines by Alpha, Beta, Gamma… But also their line has a name to define them. Many times it is an acronym.

Line: The members of an NPHC Greek organization new member class.

Membership Intake: The term NPHC groups use when they bring new members into their organizations. Each NPHC group determines when they will conduct intake, and thus no two NPHC groups will conduct intake together.

National: The central organization of a fraternity or sorority.

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): Conference composed of 26 national women’s fraternities; each is autonomous as a general, Greek-letter society of college women, undergraduates, and alumnae.

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): Collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities.

Neophyte (Neo): A new member in an NPHC organization.

New Member: One who has been accepted as a probationary member of a sorority/fraternity.

New Member Class: A chapter’s group of new members after the recruitment process is complete.

New Member Educator: A liaison between the new member class and the chapter who is responsible for implementing and monitoring the new member program and preparing the new members for initiation.

New Member Presentation (Rollout, Probate): A formal presentation of a new line to campus. It is usually done in a public forum after members have been initiated.

Number: The number you are assigned based on the chronological order you are in on your initiation line (often members of other culturally based organizations identify or relate to one another by distinguishing that they are the “same” number).

Panhellenic Council: The coordinating and governing organization for sororities.

Paraphernalia (Nalia): The different items of Greek clothing or items someone is wearing.

Philanthropy: Fundraisers, projects, events, or donations to raise money for nationally sponsored charitable organizations.

Potential New Member (PNM): A student who is not yet affiliated with a chapter and is interested in becoming a part of the fraternity and sorority community.

Prophyte: Someone who has been a member of the organization for a year or more, or someone who has initiated members (NPHC).

Quota: A specified number of potential new members each chapter may pledge.

Recruitment: A social experience in which mutual choice and selection occurs to determine sorority membership.

Recruitment Counselor: A Panhellenic sorority member who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter during formal membership recruitment. She is specially trained to help potential new members and answer any questions they may have about sorority membership.

Sands: A member of your organization or another culturally based organization that was initiated at the same time you were.

Sorority: A Greek-letter organization for women (may also be called a fraternity).

Stepping: A historically black tradition characterized by synchronized hand foot movements, along with singing, dancing, chanting, and acting. Many Latino/Latina and Multicultural groups participate in stepping as well.

Stroll: A line dance done by members of cultural Greek organizations; usually done at a party or step show.

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

Yard: A term used by NPHC groups to indicate the campus. Used in phrases such as “which groups are on the yard,” meaning which groups are presently active on campus.