Greek Glossary

Greeks often use specific terminology related to their activities and membership.  Here are some terms frequently used in Greek life.

Active: A fully initiated member of a sorority or fraternity.

Alumnae: Graduated members of a sorority (singular is alumna).

Alumni: Graduated members of a fraternity (singular is alum).

Badge: Also known as a pin, is a piece of jewelry given to initiation members worn to identify their membership in the organization and is usually only worn while in business like attire at official events. 

Bid: A formal invitation to join a Greek organization.

Big: Short for "big sister" or "big brother" - a member who serves as a mentor for newer members.

Brother: An active member of a fraternity.

Chapter: A local group of the larger national organization.

Chapter Consultant: also known as a "Leadership Consultant" - an alumna or alumnus who works for the national organization and maintains a close advisory relationships with the local chapter. Most of the time, consultants are responsible for chapters in a specific region and travel to chapters to visit and meet with the leadership and/or present/train them.

Colony: A student organization in the final stage before being installed as a chartered chapter of a nationally affiliated organization.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB): A time after formal NPC sorority recruitment when bids may still be extended and accepted.  Not all NPC Chapters participate in COB.

Crossing: A ceremony during which new members of multicultural Greek organizations become active, life-long members of their organization.

Deferred Recruitment: The policy at GW that requires students to delay fraternity or sorority membership until the second semester of their freshman year. For specific requirements of membership, please visit each respective Council's website.

Formal Recruitment: A period of time set aside by the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association for meeting potential members.

Fraternity: The name applied to all Greek-letter organizations. Informally, this name applies to men's groups while women’s organizations may be sororities or female fraternities.

Greek: A general term for a sorority or fraternity member.

Greek Week: An annual celebration in which chapters participate in educational, social, and service events. It is a time for all Greek organizations to unify.

Initiation: The formal ceremony that brings a new member into full Greek membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements that must be met in order to be initiated.

Intake: Period where students interested in MGC or NPHC organizations recruit, inform, and initiate new members.

Interfraternity Council (IFC): The governing body of nationally recognized fraternities at GW. IFC oversees Formal Recruitment for its member fraternities.

Legacy: An individual whose mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother, or grandfather is an initiated member of a Greek organization.

Line: The new member class of a NPHC or MGC organization.

Little: Short for "little sister" or "little brother" - a newer member who is mentored by an older member of the organization.

Multicultural Greek Council (MGC): An umbrella organization at GW consisting of members of NALFO, and Asian Interest Greek letter organizations on campus.

National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO): National umbrella council for Latino Greek letter organization. 

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): The governing body of the nine traditionally African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the "Divine Nine." 

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): An umbrella organization for 26 inter/national women's fraternities and sororities.  These groups are members of the Panhellenic Association.

North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): A governing body of men's fraternities founded in 1909, which includes 66 member national and international fraternal organizations. 

New Member: A potential member who has accepted a bid of a fraternity or sorority, but has not been initiated.

Panhellenic Association: Also known as "Panhel" or "PHA" - The governing body for nationally recognized sororities and female fraternities, under the umbrella organization of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).

Philanthropy: A service project or cause sponsored by a chapter from which donations of goods, money, and/or time are given to charitable organizations.

Pledge: see "New Member"

Potential New Member (PNM): A student who is not yet part of a Greek organization but is interested in joining.

Probate: The introduction of new members of a NPHC or MGC chapter to the Greek and campus community.

Quota: A specific number of women a Panhellenic sorority may offer bids to during Formal Recruitment - determined by the Panhellenic Association.

Recruitment: Formal process where interested students can learn more about Greek organizations and be asked to join.

Recruitment Counselor: An initiated member of a Greek organization who guides potential new members through the formal recruitment process. Most of the time, Recruitment Counselor's will be disassociated from their chapter to help create unbiased and a neutral party for potential new members.

Ritual: Private ceremony of a Greek organization. The formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the organization was founded.  Only initiated members are privy to the ritual; learning the ritual is usually a part of the initiation ceremony.  Ritual is sacred and unique to each inter/national organization and is the common bond between all members of a sorority or fraternity, regardless of when or where they were initiated.

Rush: see "Formal Recruitment"

Sister: A term used by sorority members to refer to one another. An active member of a sorority.

Soror: A member of a NPHC sorority. 

Sorority: A Greek letter organization for women.  Many sororities are officially fraternities; however, most refer to themselves as sororities.