On top of using the Greek alphabet, sororities and fraternities use a unique vocabulary that can be confusing to newcomers and others less familiar with the Greek community. We compiled the list below to help you understand what they’re talking about. If you’re not finding a term you’re looking for or have additional information for a definition, feel free to contact us.
Advisor – An alumnus or alumna member who serves as a resource for the active chapter and liaison between the alums and collegians.
Active – A member of a fraternity or sorority who plays an active role in the organization; also known as a member.
Alumna – A member of a sorority or women's fraternity who has graduated from college, and is no longer an active member. Plural: Alumnae.
Alumnus – A member of a fraternity who has graduated from college, and is no longer an active member. Plural: Alumni.
Associate Member – A student who has accepted a bid from a fraternity or sorority, and is in preparation for initiation. See also “Potential New Member."
Badge (pin) – The insignia that designates a given member’s Greek organization; usually worn with formal dress (Pin Attire).
Bid – A formal invitation to join the membership of a fraternity or sorority.
Bid Day – The last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a sorority or fraternity.
Big Brother/Sister – An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a mentor to an associate member (potential new member) throughout their associate membership process (new member education) leading up to initiation, and then throughour their fraternal career.
Brother – An initiated member of a fraternity commonly used by fraternity members to refer to each other, or a “Brotherhood.”
Call – A vocal sound used by members of NPHC and other culturally based Greek organizations to acknowledge other members.
Candidate – A person who has accepted a bid to join a fraternity or sorority chapter but has not yet been initiated.
Chapter – The local campus membership and organization of a larger national organization.
Chapter Advisor – A person, usually an alumna or alumnus, who serves as a mentor to the chapter membership and advises officers on all chapter operations. Some of the larger and more organizaed organizations will have multiple Chapter Advisors with specific roles (e.g. Recruitment Advisor, Academic Advisor), while others will have just one.
Charter – A formal document acknowledging the establishment of an official sorority or fraternity chapter, usually issued from an organization’s national headquarters.
Colony – A group of students who are not yet established as a chapter, but who are working towards obtaining their charter to be recognized as an established chapter by the national organization.
Continuous Open Bidding – A process of informal recruitment that occurs among members of the National Panhellenic Conference women's fraternities after the completion of their annual Fall Formal Panhellenic Week. Only NPC Chapters that are below Chapter Total may participate in Continuous Open Bidding.
Council – A governing body of a group of Greek fraternities and sororities usually comprised of chapter representatives. Councils often oversee programming, recruitment, and conduct of their respective chapters.
Crossed – The date on which an associate member became an active member of a fraternity or sorority. Usually a term used in culturally centered Greek organizations.
Davis Collegiate Panhellenic Association (DCPA) - The local council of the National Panhellenic Council, which oversees ten member sororities at UC Davis. The Council acts as a governing body that oversees recruitment, conduct, and programming.
De-pledge – Ending one’s affiliation with a fraternity or sorority before initiation, also known as dropping.
“Divine Nine” – A nickname for the nine historically African American Greek organizations on the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Dues - The monetary obligation associated with membership in a fraternity or sorority. These fees are used for operation of the chapter and vary from chapter to chapter.
Dirty Rushing – When an organization attempts to influence a potential new member through gifts, bad mouthing other organizations, etc.
Dry – An organization or event which does not permit alcohol. This may be a rule of the organization or a sanction placed through conduct.
Dry Recruitment/Rush – Recruitment/rush events and or process where alcohol is not permitted.
Expansion/Extension – The process of a sorority or fraternity seeking to establish a new chapter at a university.
Founder – One of the members of a sorority or fraternity responsible for starting the Colony, Interest Group, or Chapter at a campus.
Founders Day - A day recognized by fraternities and sororities to celebrate the founding of their organization.
Formal Recruitment or Rush - A specified period of time set aside by a governing Greek council in which fraternities and sororities may recruit potential new members. Formal Recruitment periods usually come with strict guidelines for handing out bids and interacting with potential new members.
Fraternity – A name traditionally used to describe a men’s Greek letter organization. The very first women's Greek organizations were originally called 'women's fraternities,' instead of 'sororities.'
Greeks – A nickname for members of fraternities or sororities.
Greek Week – A specific week set aside each year for Greek organizations to participate in community wide events, philanthropies, social activities, and competitions.
Hazing - Activities used as a method of initiation or pre-initiation into an organization which is likely to cause bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace. Often includes, but is not limited to, violence, alcohol, illegal activities, demeaning or degrading behavior, and limiting/control of behavior. For more information about the hazing policies at UC Davis please visit the Center for Student Involvement website. If you feel that you have been a victim of hazing or witnessed a hazing feel free to Contact Us for more information.
House – A residence of a specific fraternity or sorority. It is sometimes used as a synonym for “chapter”.
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.
House Director/House Mom/House Manager – A person hired to live in the chapter house to supervise the chapter members and manage the facility.
Inactive member – An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority who no longer participates in chapter activities.
Initiation – The final ceremony before an associate member becomes an active member of a fraternity or sorority.
Intake – A process of recruitment to choose potential new members traditionally used by culturally centered Greek organizations.
Interest Group – A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the expansion process that could lead to an installation as a chapter of a Greek-letter organization.
Interfraternity Council (IFC) – The local chapter of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, which acts as a governing body of eighteen nationally-recognized fraternities at UC Davis. IFC oversees recruitment, conduct, and relations for its member chapters.
Letters – Commonly referenced in regards to the Greek letters worn by affiliated members - often displayed on clothing.
Lavaliere - A necklace with Greek letters on it. Sorority women can wear these necklaces with their sorority's letters, and many become lavaliered upon receiving a lavaliere from their boyfriend with his fraternity's letters.
Legacy – A student with an older relative who was a member of a particular fraternity or sorority. Many sororities and fraternities give preference to legacies.
Line – Term used to describe a group of fraternity or sorority members who were initiated together, commonly used as 'line brothers' or 'line sisters' by cultural sororities and fraternities.
Member – A student who has been initiated into a fraternity or sorority.
Membership Intake Process (MIP or Intake) – In 1990, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Council of Presidents made the move to adopt the membership intake process as a way to educate and initiate new members.
National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA) – NAPA serves to advocate the needs of its 18 APIA member fraternities and sororities.
National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) – The coalition of 16 Latino/o based sororities and fraternities in the United States.
National Pan-Hellenic Council (UCD Council) – The local council of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which oversees the active “Divine Nine” historically African American Greek organizations at UCD.
National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) – The governing body for 26 national and international women's fraternities. The NPC groups registered at UCD form a local Council called the Davis Collegiate Panhelleinc Association, or Panhellenic.
North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) – A conference of men’s private fraternities founded in 1909 representing 73 International and National Men's Fraternities. At UC Davis the registered Chapter that are members of NIC at the national level form a local Council called the Interfraternity Council, or IFC.
Neo/Neophyte – A new member.
New Member – A person who has accepted a bid to join a fraternity or sorority chapter but has not yet been initiated.
New Member Educator – The officer of a fraternity or sorority who prepares potential new members (associate members) for initiation, and oversees their education in the chapter’s traditions, history, and ritual.
New Member Education Process – The educational period prior to initiation in which members learn about the given organization.
New Member Pin – a pin that designates a student as a potential new member of a specific Greek organization.
Open Recruitment/Rush – The unstructured recruitment process, outside of Formal Recruitment, in which fraternities and sororities recruit new members throughout the academic year.
Order of Omega - A national honor society recognizing fraternity and sorority members who excel in academic achievement, Greek leadership and campus involvement.
Philanthropy – Chapter sponsored service project from which donations of money, goods, and other items are given to charitable organizations.
Pi Rho Chi – Also known as a panhellenic recruitment counselor, are volunteers from the Davis Collegiate Panhellenic Council that assist and support potential new members through the DCPA formal recruitment process.
Pledge – The term used by some organizations for individuals who are in the process of becoming members. Also see New Member.
Pledging – see “New Member Education Process”
Pledge Pin - see “New Member Pin”
Potential New Member – A student who is interested in joining a sorority or fraternity.
Preferential Bidding - A system used by the Panhellenic sororities to conduct recruitment where chapters and potential new members indicate their preferred choices for membership. This process narrows down choices over a given recruitment week until the individual is matched with one chapter.
Preference – The final parties held by DCPA sororities during formal recruitment - also known as Pref.
Probate/New Members Presentation – A showcase by the new members of an NPHC organization to signify the completion of their new member process.
Quota – A specified number of potential new members a Panhellenic sorority may offer bids to during the formal recruitment period.
Recruitment - The period of time and process in which Greek organizations seek out potential new members to join there chapter.
Recruitment Counselor – A DCPA sorority member who leads a recruitment group. During formal recruitment they disaffiliate from their sorority so that they will not bias the potential new members - also known as Pi Rho Chis.
Registered Student Organization (RSO) – A student organization that is registered with the Center for Student Involvement.
Ritual - The traditions and secretive ceremonies of a specific fraternity or sorority.
Rush – see “Recruitment.”
Rushee - A student participating in recruitment who visits Greek organizations with an interest in possibly affiliating with one organization as a potential new member (pledge).
Sister - An initiated member of a sorority or women's fraternity.
Sorority - A Greek organization whose membership consists of women. Some sororities are identified as a women's fraternity in their official and traditional name, but are commonly called sororities.
Soror – Term used by NPHC sorority members towards one another.
Step Show – A line dance performed by members of cultural Greek organizations, usually showing unity amongst members and pride in ones chapter.
Stroll – A line dance done by members of cultural Greek organizations.
United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC) – The governing council of thirteen culturally diverse fraternities and sororities at UC Davis. The council deals with chapter relations, programming, and community wide events.