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Greek Terminology

  • GREEK TERMINOLOGY

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


    Active: A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity or sorority membership and participates in chapter activities at the collegiate level.

    Alumni/Alumnae: Initiated fraternity or sorority members who have graduated from college.

    Badge or Pin: The pin of an initiated member.

    Bid: A formal invitation to membership in a particular fraternity or sorority.

    Big Brother or Big Sister (Big): An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a mentor to a new member, guiding him or her through the new member education program and initiation.

    Call/Chant: Audible sounds used by members in a NPHC or Multicultural organization to acknowledge or gain the attention of other members. Calls may vary regionally within organizations, and some organizations may use more than one call.

    Chapter: A local group of the larger (inter)national organization, designated by a special Greek name.

    City-wide Chapters: Similar to the definition of “Chapter”. Some NPHC organizations may have a city-wide chapters comprised of several local colleges and universities.

    Community Service or Public Service: Time and effort donated toward a charitable cause or community institution to benefit the public. (Please note the difference between community service and philanthropy).

    Crossed: the same as being initiated. The term means different things to different groups, but generally means crossing over from being non-affiliated to being an initiated member. Most groups record this time to the second. Term also refers to "Crossing the Burning Sands"

    DOP/DP: the membership educator in a NPHC or Multicultural organization. Short for Dean of Pledges an old term that the groups still use. ADOP/ADP would be the assistant dean.

    Drop: the term used to refer to someone who de-pledged, or stopped pledging.

    Financial: term used to refer to an active member. (ie. Someone paying dues.)

    Executive Office or Headquarters: The central organization of a particular fraternity or sorority. Often referred to as National Headquarters, International Headquarters, or just Nationals.Formal Recruitment: The membership selection period held in August/September.

    Fraternity: The name that applies to all Greek organizations characterized by a ritual, badge and strong ties to friendship and moral principles. Informally, women's fraternities are called sororities.

    Grad/Alumni Chapter: The graduate chapter of NPHC or Multicultural organization. Usually the local grad chapter oversees the operations of the undergraduate chapter.

    FSL 101: The mandatory program held each fall and spring to educate our new Greek-affiliated members about the responsibilities and expectations of being Greek at Capital University.

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

    Informational or Rush: often a formal recruitment event for NPHC or Multicultural organizations.

    Informal Recruitment: The membership selection period for fraternities and sororities with openings throughout the fall and spring semesters.

    Initiation: The formal ceremony that marks the beginning of active membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements in order to be initiated.

    Intake: The process several chapters perform to recruit, interview, choose, and educate new members. Term mainly used in NPHC or Multicultural organizations.

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

    Interfraternity Council (IFC): The governing body of 5 fraternities at Capital. IFC operates under the affiliation requirements of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

    Legacy: The brother or sister, son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter of a fraternity or sorority member. Each (inter)national organization has its own policy regarding legacies.

    Line: The members of a NPHC or Multicultural organization’s new member class.

    Line Brother or Line Sister: The term used by members of NPHC or Multicultural organizations that refers to the other members that were in their new member class. Depending on the region, members may refer to their line brother or sister as their Sands since they crossed the “Burning Sands” (were initiated) together.

    Line Jacket: Worn by members in a NPHC or Multicultural organization, these lightweight windbreakers usually have the organization's name, letters, crest, crossing chapter, crossing date, line number, line name, and other graphics and information stitched onto them.

    Line Name: The name given to a NPHC or Multicultural organization’s new member 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 Name(s) can also refer to the individual member’s line name which is often given by new members Big Brothers or Big Sisters.

    Little Brother or Little Sister (Little): A new member of a fraternity or sorority who will be matched with a Big (Brother or Sister) to begin a mentoring relationship as they go through the New Member Education program and beyond.

    Membership Recruitment: The mutual selection process that prospective members and chapter members go through during the recruitment period to get to know one another.

    National Association of Latin Fraternal Organizations (NALFO): The representative body governing historically Latino/Latina Greek Letter organizations. There are no affiliated NALFO organizations on Capital’s campus, but you may interact with members of a NALFO organization if you attend larger Greek conferences.

    Neophyte (aka "Neo"): A new member of a cultural Greek organization in a NPHC or Multicultural organization.

    New Member Presentation (aka Probate): a formal presentation of a new line to campus. Usually done in a public forum after members have been initiated into a NPHC or Multicultural organization.

    New Member Education (NME): A period of learning about fraternity and sorority life prior to initiation. This period varies for all groups.

    New Member: A member of a fraternity or sorority who has not been initiated.

    NIC (North American Interfraternity Conference): Governing body for 72 national member men's fraternities and alumni associations.

    NPC (National Panhellenic Conference): The umbrella organization for 26 women's fraternities. NPC supports its chapters by promoting values, education, leadership, friendship, cooperation, and citizenship

    NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council): A national organization composed of four sororities and five fraternities whose membership is historically African-American.

    Number or Club: the number you are assigned based on the chronological order you are in on your initiation line (often members in a NPHC or Multicultural organization identify or relate to one another by distinguishing that they are the "same" number).

    Order of Omega - National Greek Leadership Honor Society: Limited to top 3% of members in the Greek Community at Capital University. Must have a GPA at or greater then Greek GPA, junior or senior status, significant leadership and service to the campus and the Greek community.

    Para (aka "Nalia"): short for paraphernalia. The different items of Greek clothing or items someone is wearing.

    Panhellenic Association: The governing body of 4 sororities at Capital. PHA operates under the affiliation requirements of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).

    Philanthropy: Fundraising activities or service projects for charitable institutions, or charitable aid/donations to these institutions. (Please note the difference between philanthropy and community service).

    Potential New Member (PNM): A college student who is interested in joining a Greek Organization and is taking part in the recruitment process.

    Preferencing: During the last part of Panhellenic sorority recruitment, a potential new member determines which particular sorority she is willing to join. The potential new member lists three sororities in her order of preference.

    Prophyte: term used to refer to an older brother/sister from your chapter in a NPHC or Multicultural organization.

    Quota: The specified number of potential new members to which each sorority may extend a bid.

    Rho Gamma or Rho Gam (aka Recruitment Guide): 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 NPHC or Multicultural organization that was initiated during the same semester as you were. Depending on the region, members may refer to their line brother or sister as their Sands since they crossed the “Burning Sands” (were initiated) together.

    Social or Mixer: A get-together event with another Greek organization.

    Soror or Sawrah: term used to refer to a sister in a NPHC or Multicultural organization.

    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 (aka Party Walk, Party Hop): A line dance done by members in a NPHC or Multicultural organizations; usually done at a party or step show.

    TeeKee: the large necklace worn with large Greek letters on them by members of NPHC or Multicultural organizations. Similar to a lavaliere but much larger and often made out of wood.

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

    Yard: the term used to refer to the particular campus or university a chapter is at. This term is usually used by members of NPHC or Multicultural organizations.