Fraternities and sororities have a lot of specific terminology and acronyms. This glossary should help you learn to "speak Greek"!

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

Alumna: A member of a women’s fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumnae. 

Alumnus: A member of a men’s fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumni. 

Associate Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated into a sorority or fraternity. See also “New Member” 

Badge: A “pin” worn by fully-initiated members of each fraternity or sorority that carries its official insignia. 

Bid: An invitation to join a sorority or fraternity. For culturally-based or NPHC organizations, it is a formal invitation to be a potential/prospective new member.

Big: Nickname for big sister or brother, which is a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings. 

Brother: An active or alumni member of a fraternity. 

Brotherhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same fraternity. 

Campus Total: The maximum number of members a Panhellenic Council sorority can have on a given campus. Groups can only exceed total during formal recruitment if in the process of extending bids to quota, the chapter size grows beyond this number. Conversely, if a sorority is below total, that sorority may continue to ask new members to join, but only up to total.

Chant: A call used by members of culturally-based organizations or NPHC used to acknowledge or gain the attention of others. Some organizations have more than one chant

Chapter: An established membership unit of a national or international sorority or fraternity. 

Chapter House: A physical structure where members live. Chapter houses are typically owned and operated by private corporations or organizations. 

Charter: The official document drafted by an inter/national fraternity or sorority that allows for the creation of a local chapter that is affiliated with a college or university campus. 

Class or “New Member Class”: A term used to name new members of a Panhellenic Council or Interfraternity Council organization who all joined during the same semester. 

Collective Greek Council (CGC): The governing council for Greek-lettered organization with various academic and interest-based membership on the Oregon State Campus. This council includes local sororities (unique to OSU) in addition to sororities that have multiple chapters around the country.

Colony: Known as a “trial period” for a new organization that is awaiting official Chapter Status recognition from their national to establish a letter chapter on their campus. 

Crest: Insignia used by sorority and fraternity members. Most Greek organizations reserve the crest for initiated members only. Each crest has hidden, secret meanings behind it. Also known as a coat or arms, shield or armorial bearings. 

Crossing: Ceremony during which new members of culturally-based and NPHC organizations become active, life-long members of their organization. 

Crossing Date/Year: A term for initiating into a culturally-based Greek organization or NPHC organization. Usually used to refer to when a member joined their organization – the term and year they joined.

D.A. or Deactivate: A student who for some reason removes himself or herself from association with the fraternity and drops membership completely.

Depledge: A student who withdraws from an organization after accepting a bid, but before the student is initiated by a chapter. 

Dry: A fraternity which does not permit alcohol on the premises and in very rare cases, does not allow the organization to host a party involving alcohol. Some fraternities are going dry at the national level, and all sororities have different levels of "dry". For example, one may allow the sorority to attend a function hosted by a non-dry fraternity, while another sorority may not. 

Dues: The monetary costs of membership in a fraternity or sorority. These fees are used to cover the costs of operation, formal events, social activities, and other events, depending on the organization. 

Expansion: When an organization is looking to expand and open a new establishment of a Greek-letter organization at a college or university. 

Founder's Day: An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history. It's not necessarily held on the day the organization was founded. 

Fraternity: The name applied to Greek organizations including both men’s and women’s organizations. There are several types of fraternities at OSU, including social fraternities, service fraternities, professional fraternities, and honorary fraternities.  

Formal Recruitment: A designated recruitment period during which a series of organized events are held by each NPC sorority or IFC fraternity. At OSU, this is organized and implemented by the Panhellenic Council or Interfraternity Council. 

Founders: The founding members of a Greek Letter organization.

Governing Council: Also known as an umbrella council, generally supports and acts as a voice for organizations within it, including being the official sponsored student organization as liaison between the university and the members of the member organizations. The Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life advises OSU's governing councils directly; Collective Greek Council (CGC), Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), & National Panhellenic Council (NPC).

Greeks: Members of a fraternity or sorority. The term "Greek" is used because a majority of fraternities and sororities use Greek letters to distinguish themselves. 

Hand Signs: Signs that only a member of an organization can "throw up." Most signs have a deep meaning to a organization or ritualistic symbol. 

Hazing: Any willful act or practice by a member, directed against a member or new member, which, with or without intent, is likely to: cause bodily harm or danger, offensive punishment, or disturbing pain, compromise the person's dignity; cause embarrassment or shame in public; cause the person to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain; and impair academic efforts. In addition, hazing is any requirement by a member which compels a member or new member to participate in any activity which is illegal, is contrary to moral or religious beliefs, or is contrary to the rules and regulations of the sorority/fraternity, institution of learning, and civil authorities. 

Informal Recruitment: Any time outside of a formal recruitment period where Greek organizations recruit new members. It is called informal because potential members need not follow a designated schedule set by the governing council.

Initiation: A ceremony during which new members receive lifelong membership privileges into the organization they have chosen to be a part of. 

Intake: Term for the process by which Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council members are selected to become new members of an organization. This is generally much more secretive than recruitment  for CGC, IFC, and Panhellenic members, but generally includes an application and an interview process, followed by an educational program done at the regional level conducted by alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”). 

Interest: A way to refer to someone who is interested in joining a Greek organization.

Interest Group: A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a Greek-letter organization. 

Interfraternity Council (IFC): The OSU-based “chapter” of the North-American Interfraternity Conference. A student-led governing body that supports the men’s fraternities who are part of the NIC that have chapters at OSU. IFC strives to provide communication between the fraternal organizations and connects organizations to the local Corvallis and OSU community.

Legacy: Each organization has its own definition of a "legacy." It is generally defined as an immediate family member of an initiated member, such as a sister/brother or daughter/son. Some sororities also recognize extended family members as legacies as well. 

Letters: The first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the motto of a particular fraternity or sorority; these are generally displayed on clothing and other Greek paraphernalia. 

Line: A term used by culturally-based and NPHC organizations to name a group of new members who all joined during the same term, semester, or pledge class. They are the potential new members of the organization. Lines are often given names. 

Line name/number: The name given to a prospective/new member that represents them as a person, usually a noun, adjective or acronym. Culturally-based organizations and NPHC organizations also assign a line number to their new members (such as ace, deuce, tre, etc.)

Little: Short for "Little brother/sister" - a new member who is being mentored by an older member of their organization
Multicultural Greek Council (MGC): An umbrella council which is a fusion of culturally rich and distinct Greek Letter Organizations at OSU, including but not limited to those focused on the celebration of race, ethnicity, nationality, career and professional advancement and sexual orientation. It is a student governed council at Oregon State University. MGC strives to connect our organizations and the local Corvallis and OSU community through academic, social, and service events.

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 Council (NPC): A national organization comprised of 26 women’s fraternities and sororities, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter-society of college women.

Nationals: Fraternity and Sorority members often refer to their national/international headquarters or offices as "Nationals" or HQ. These offices are responsible for making policies for the individual organizations at all of colleges and universities where their organization recruits members. 
Neo or Neophyte: A new member of a cultural organization or a NPHC organization.

North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): A national organization comprised of 69 fraternal organizations (mostly for men), each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter-society of college men. 

New Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity. Also see Associate Member.

New Member Educator: The liaison between the new members and the chapter, they are responsible for implementing and monitoring the new member program and preparing the new members for initiation. 

New Member Presentation: Also referred as a probate, is a presentation that celebrates and welcome new members in the Multicultural Greek community or NPHC community.

New Member Program: The time period where the new member learns about their new sorority and fraternity before initiation. This time frame lasts from accepting a bid until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period (and still called this in some fraternities).

Officers: Initiated members who currently hold positions within their Greek organization or governing body.

“On the Yard”: A phrase used by culturally-based and historically black organizations meaning that a fraternity or sorority is currently chartered and able to recruit new members on campus. 

Open Recruitment: A designated recruitment period during which each of the men’s fraternal organizations in the IFC host recruitment events at their own houses. This type of recruitment is considered “informal” because potential members need not follow a designated schedule. 

Order of Omega: This is a National Honor Society for fraternity or sorority members who maintain a grade point average above the All-Greek average, have distinguished themselves as leaders in the OSU Greek community, have exemplary character, and are either juniors or seniors.

Panhellenic Council: An umbrella council comprised of the NPC women’s housed sororities. A student governed council at Oregon State University which strives to provide communication between the organizations and connects organizations to the local Corvallis and OSU community through academic, social, and service events.

Philanthropy: This is a community service project/s held by a fraternity, sorority, or both. OSU Greek students perform a number of these projects each year, and most Inter/National Fraternities and Sororities require their organizations to do one large project per year. Our chapters are extremely involved in university and community service participating in such events as Relay for Life, canned food drives, clothing drives, and many more. 

Pin: The active member pin or badge, a distinctive insignia worn on the chest designating an active member of a particular fraternity. The new member pin, an insignia used to designate a new member of a particular fraternity.

Pledge: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity. This term is believed to be outdated by some and can be offensive. See also “New Member” 

Potential New Member: A person who is interested in joining a Greek-letter organization, and will participate in rush, intake, or recruitment; often abbreviated to PNM. 

Preference: The final event held by Panhellenic Council organizations during Fall Formal Recruitment. These events are more formal than the previous parties and usually include a ritual that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref or Pref Night.

Preference Cards: Panhellenic Potential New Members sign this after preference, indicating in order, which sororities of the ones whose events they attended they would accept a bid from. These cards, along with the organizations’ bid lists, are used to match the PNMs and sororities with one another in a mutually selective process. 

Probate: An official public presentation of initiation used by culturally-based and NPHC organizations. The presentation may consist of knowledge learned, skills gained, and values understood. This is a proud moment of historical significance for new members of these organizations. In most cases, this is the first time when newly initiated members of each fraternity/sorority are revealed to the rest of campus.

Prophyte or "Old Head:" A term used to refer to an older brother/sister from a culturally based organization.

Quota: A specific number of women to which each Panhellenic Council sorority may extend membership during a formal (fall) recruitment period. This number is determined by the Panhellenic Council each year in conjunction with the National Panhellenic Conference. 

Recolonize: A process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus receives another charter to recruit members on the same campus. Recolonization can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers, or had their charter revoked. 

Recruitment: The process through which sororities and fraternities get new members. Potential New Members tour each house, are invited to different events and choose the new members for their organization (students seeking membership in a fraternity or sorority “rush,” while the Greek organizations “recruit” new members). 

Recruitment Counselor (Gamma Chi): A Panhellenic representative who has no contact with her own chapter during Panhellenic formal recruitment and is available to guide women through the recruitment process and answer questions. 

Ritual: The traditional rites and ceremonies of a fraternity or sorority; these are almost always private and known only to initiated members of a fraternal organization. 

Rush: The process of attending recruitment events held by houses with the intent of meeting people and participating in a particular fraternity. This term is believed to be outdated by some and its use is not encouraged.

Saluting: Saluting is a tradition common to many Latino-Greek Organizations. Salute/Saluting is a unique art of reciting information in a line formation. Put quite simply, it's "poetry in motion." Involves a line of members performing intense, in-sync, and sharp hand & body movements with greetings attributing to others, honoring past and current accomplishments, or cherishing the cultural history, heritage, and traditions of the entire organization.

Sister: An active member of a sorority. 

Sisterhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same sorority. 

Step Show: A show often performed by National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Also called stepping. 

Stroll: A dance, normally done in a line of active members that displays pride and knowledge of their organization and its values. Organizations usually have national strolls and local strolls that incorporate a variety of different moves and hand signs that are unique that organization. 

Stepping: Stepping is a traditions where members synchronize their moves so that they are in a sense performing their own dance moves, without music. In stepping the members will clap, stomp with their feet, jump, chant (not to be confused with saluting) and create their own beat by doing so. Stepping is traditional done by NPHC organization, but multicultural Greek are also know to do it.