Glossary of Greek Terms


ACTIVE  A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity or sorority membership and is active at the collegiate level.

ALUMNI/AE  Initiated fraternity or sorority members who have graduated from college.

BADGE  The pin of an initiated  member.

BID  A formal invitation to join a specific chapter. Also called an Invitation for Membership.

BIG BROTHER/SISTER  An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a sponsor, advisor and special friend to a New Member, guiding them through their New Member program and initiation.

BROTHER  A term used by fraternity members to refer to one another.

CHAPTER  A local group of the  larger inter/national organization, designated by a special name.

DEPLEDGE  To terminate one’s membership before initiation. Also called Dropping.

FRATERNITY  The name that applies to all Greek letter organizations characterized by a ritual, pin and strong ties to a friendship and moral principles. Some sororities are also called fraternities.

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

INTERFRATERNITY COUNCIL (IFC)  The governing body of  fraternities that are members of the North-American Interfraternity Conference.

INTER/NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS  The central organization of a particular fraternity or sorority.

INITIATED MEMBER  Any member who has completed the New Member process, has gone through the initiation ceremony and is currently enrolled in college.

INTAKE  The process NPHC chapters perform to recruit and select new members.

LEGACY  The brother or sister, son or daughter, grandson/daughter of a fraternity or sorority member. Each chapter has their own policy regarding legacies. Being a legacy does NOT ensure preference in selection or membership in the chapter.

NORTH-AMERICAN INTERFRATERNITY CONFERENCE (NIC)  Trade association for 69 national member men’s fraternities.

NATIONAL PANHELLENIC CONFERENCE (NPC)  The governing body for the 26 member organizations, each of which is  autonomous as a social Greek letter society of undergraduates and alumna.

NATIONAL PAN-HELLENIC COUNCIL (NPHC)  The national governing organization of the historically African-American fraternities and sororities.

NEW MEMBER  A member of a fraternity or sorority who has not been initiated. Also called a Pledge.

NEW MEMBER PROGRAM  New members learn the history, ideals and values of the inter/national organization.

PHILANTHROPY  A charitable fundraiser or service project sponsored by a fraternity or sorority.

POTENTIAL NEW MEMBER  Any student participating in recruitment.

RECOMMENDATION  A personal letter of reference provided by an alumni/ae of a national organization to the chapter. Recs are not required to participate in recruitment.

RECRUITMENT/RUSH  The   process of mutual selection between a prospective member and active chapter.

SISTER  A term used by sorority members to refer to one another.

SWAP  A social activity with another chapter.