Fraternity & Sorority Life Terms

There are many words we use in Fraternity & Sorority Life that are not as common to non-members. We hope these terms and definitions can help you understand more about Fraternity & Sorority Life.


Active (often referred to as a Brother or Sister): An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority.

Affiliation: The fraternity or sorority to which the individual belongs.

Alumna/ae: A sorority woman who has graduated from college. Alumnae is the plural version of alumna.

Alumnus/i: A fraternity man who has graduated from college. Alumni is the plural version of alumnus and is used to represent a group of alumni consisting of men and women.

Alumni/ae Association: An organization of alumni from an individual Fraternity or Sorority. The association may be based on geographical location or chapter.

Associate Member: A person who has accepted the bid of a fraternity or sorority but has not yet been initiated into full membership.

Badge: The symbol worn by the initiated member of a fraternity or sorority.

Bid: An invitation to become a member of a fraternity or sorority.

Brother: A term used by members of a fraternity when referring to one another.

Call/Chant: A vocal sound (sometimes high-pitched) used by members of cultural based fraternities and sororities to acknowledge one another.

Chapter: a local group of the larger inter/national organization, designated by a specific Greek letter name.

Chapter Advisor: An alumni who establishes and maintains a close advisory relationship with a chapter and serves as a teacher, counselor, and friend.

Chapter Meeting: : Each fraternity/sorority holds a weekly meeting to keep all of the members informed about upcoming events. Often referred to as “Chapter”.

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

Crossed: The term means different things to different groups, but generally means crossing over from being a prospective member to being a full member.

Disaffiliation/Disassociation: The action recruitment counselors and council executive boards take during formal recruitment in order to perform their duties and assist PNMs during recruitment without bias.

Dry Recruitment: Any organizations event where they are trying to gain interest in or from potential new members.

Dues: These are the membership, philanthropic, and other fees paid to the local chapter of a sorority or fraternity in order to be a member in good standing and for the local chapter to stay in good standing with its national organization.

F.I.P.G.: Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group is a group of inter/national fraternities that have grouped together to form a uniform risk management policy in order to obtain adequate liability insurance.

Formal Recruitment: The predetermined time span for recruitment in which the majority of recruitment occurs each year.

Fraternity: A fraternal organization of men. Formally, both men's and women's groups were called fraternities, though many of the women's groups now refer to themselves as a "Fraternity for Women" or sororities.

Greek: Term often used to describe a fraternity or sorority and their members.

FSL Advisor: A staff member that helps guide and structure the fraternal community and its members.

Greek Week: A time period each year where the fraternal community comes together. The purpose of Greek Week is to build unity in the fraternal community, participate in service and philanthropy, and celebrate what it means to be a member of a fraternity or sorority.

Hazing: “In accordance with Section 1006.63, Florida Statutes, “Hazing” is defined as any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. "Hazing" includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student.” (UWF/Reg-3.018 Prohibition of Hazing, Definition of Hazing) Hazing is prohibited by university policy, State law, and the policies of inter/national fraternities and sororities.

Informal Recruitment: A method by which fraternities individually determine when they will extend bids to PNMs. Unlike formal recruitment, sororities who have spots available (based on total) can extend a bid at any time during the year with informal recruitment.

Initiation: A traditional, secret ritual which brings an individual into full membership.

Intake: The process by which prospective members join NPHC or Cultural Specific organizations.

Lavalier: A piece of jewelry depicting the letters of one's organization.

Lavaliering (also known as dropping): The practice of a fraternity member giving his lavalier to a woman signifying a committed relationship between the two. As the relationship becomes more serious, the next step would be "Pinning".

Legacy: A PNM whose grandparent, parent, brother or sister is a member of a fraternity/sorority.

Line: The members of a cultural fraternity or sorority new member class.

Line Brother/Sister: Members that were inducted into the fraternity/sorority together.

Mixer: An activity where the members of one or more fraternal organization(s) host a social event with another fraternal organization.

National Headquarters: The governing body and staff of each inter/national fraternity or sorority.

Neophyte (Neo): The newest members of a cultural fraternity or sorority.

New (or Associate) Member: A person who has accepted a bid from a fraternity or sorority. Previously referred to as a Pledge.

New Member Class: All potential members of a chapter who accept their bids to join the fraternity/sorority in the same semester. Previously referred to as a Pledge Class.

New Member Education Process: The time period in which candidates for active membership (or new members) learn about the organization and participate in brotherhood/sisterhood actives.

New Member Pin: A pin that designates a new member of a fraternity or sorority.

New Member Presentation: A formal presentation of a new line to campus. Usually done in public forum after members have been initiated. Previously referred to as probate.

Order of Omega: A national honor society recognizing fraternity and sorority members who excel in academic achievement, Fraternal leadership and campus involvement.

Philanthropy: The chapter's specific charitable organization(s) that they raise or donate funds for.

Pin: The symbol worn by the initiated member of a fraternal organization.

Pinning: The practice of a fraternity member giving his member's Badge to a woman. When a woman is "pinned", if she is a member of a sorority, the sisters will be brought together in a private, candlelit ceremony where the secret pinning will be announced to the sisterhood and then celebrated.

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

Prophyte: An older brother or sister in a fraternity who generally took part in the initiation of the organization's new members.

Quota: The number of women each sorority may accept during formal recruitment. This number is based on the number of PNMs who attend Preference Tea, changes each year.

Recommendation: Sometimes a PNM may not be a legacy, but she may know an alumna of a sorority chapter. In these cases, the alumna may choose to write a recommendation letter of introduction to the chapter of the sorority of which she is a member. This letter generally is a means by which the sorority can get to know a bit more about a PNM. It is not necessary to have any letters of recommendation to go through recruitment process.

Recruitment Counselor/Beta Chi: An upper-class member of a sorority, chosen and trained to assist PNMs with formal recruitment.

Risk Management: Involves analyzing all exposures to the possibility of loss and determining how to handle these exposures or reduce or transfer the risk.

Ritual: Secret ceremonies that are used to inspire and educate members about the importance of the organization.

Recruitment: The time when fraternities and sororities sponsor activities seeking PNM's while the PNM's seek fraternal membership.

Service: Volunteering that is done by a fraternity or sorority member or organization.

Sister: A term used by members of a sorority when referring to one another.

Social: An activity where the members of one or more fraternal organization have a social event with another fraternal organization.

Sorority: A fraternal organization of women.

Silence Period: The time between preference tea event and bid day during Panhellenic Formal Recruitment in which no sorority woman or PNM may have contact.

Step/Stroll: A dance often done in a line by members of a cultural fraternities and sororities.

Total: The maximum number of women a Panhellenic chapter may have in their chapter. A chapter may go over total during formal recruitment only by reaching Quota.

Unaffiliated: A student not in a fraternity or sorority.

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