Glossary of Fraternity and Sorority Life Terms


Many times people think that FSL (Fraternity and Sorority Life) members speak a different language. Really, it's simple. Hopefully, this Glossary of Terms will help you!


An alumnus or alumna member who serves as a resource for the active chapter and liaison between the alums and collegians.

Advisory Board
Members of an alumni chapter that advises the chapter.

To join with an organization. Colonies petition national organizations to affiliate with them. A member who switches schools may also affiliate with the chapter at his/her new school.

Members of a fraternity or sorority who have graduated. (Singular Female= Alumna, Plural Female= Alumnae, Singular Male= Alumnus, Plural Male= Alumni)

Also known as a pin, it is an item of jewelry given to members upon initiation. The badge is to be worn at all official functions and is worn with business like attire, usually over the heart and above all other pins.

An invitation to join an IFC fraternity or NPC sorority. They are given out during formal recruitment (on Bid Day for sororities, at any time before the end of formal recruitment for fraternities).

Bid Day
The last day of recruitment in which potential new members receive formal invitations to join a sorority.

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

Term that male fraternity members call each other.

A branch of a national fraternity or sorority, established at a campus. Each will have their own name, usually designated by Greek Letters.

Chapter Meeting
A meeting held to discuss fraternity or sorority business.

Permission from the national organization to have a chapter.

An initiated member of a fraternity or sorority currently in college. Formerly known as active.

A new organization that is awaiting official recognition from their national to have a chapter at a campus.

The official pair or triad of colors that represent a specific Greek organization.

Continuous Open Bidding/Recruitment
Also known as COB/COR. If a sorority does not reach the allowable membership total during formal recruitment or if they do not get quota, they may hold an informal recruitment, and offer bids to potential new members.

Insignia used by fraternity or sorority 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 or shield.

Dirty Rushing
When one organization will attempt to influence a potential new member through gifts, bad mouthing other organizations, etc. This is forbidden among Panhellenic chapters.

A fraternity or sorority which does not permit alcohol during their activities, and in some 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.

Dry Rush
A fraternity rush event with no alcohol. All sorority recruitment events are dry, so this term only applies to fraternities.

Charge of joining a fraternity or sorority. Covers costs of national and local operations, formal events, activities and other events. The amount varies based on the organization.

When an organization is looking to expand and open a chapter at a new school.

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.

A group of people brought together because of mutual interests. Generally thought of as a group of men, but also refers to co-ed organizations and many sororities are officially fraternities.

Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL)
The community of members of in fraternities and sororities.

Greek Alphabet
The alphabet that contains all Greek letters used within sororities and fraternities. Refer to bottom of the page for a list of all the letters*

Greek Week
An organized week of activities to unite all councils in friendly competition.

It's a special handshake unique to each organization. Only initiated members will know the handshake. Also known as a Grip.

Any act performed by a member of any organization that is likely to cause harm, danger, causes public embarrassment or shame, compromise's a persons dignity, causes the person to be the object of ridicule, cause psychological harm, or is illegal. Hazing is against the law in all states, and is against the principles of all fraternities and sororities.

Stands for Interfraternity Council, and is the governing body of the NIC fraternities, on some campuses local fraternities are housed under the IFC.

Inactive Member
A member who has elected to become inactive in fraternity or sorority life for various reasons. They have no say or participation in chapter/organization activities.

A person who has recently learned the ritual of a fraternity or sorority and is a full member.

A ceremony where a pledge/prospective new member becomes a full member of the organization. Initiation ceremonies are private and different for all organizations.

Term for the process by which NPHC members are selected to become new members of an organization. Much more secretive than recruitment or rush, but generally includes an application and an interview process, followed by an educational program done at the local level conducted by both undergraduates and alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”).

A necklace with the sorority letters, often worn by members. Lavaliering is a process where a fraternity member would give his lavaliere to his girlfriend, as a sign of a serious relationship. Depending on the campus, this can be equal to "pinning".

The son, daughter, brother, or sister of an organization’s member. Some organizations also include grandchildren or step children.

The first Greek letter of each Greek word that makes up the name of the fraternity or sorority are often displayed on clothing. Some organizations don't allow new members to wear letters (only the name spelled out), while others do.

Nickname for a Big Sister sometimes uses for their Little Sister, or a new member that they mentor.

A symbol, usually an animal, chosen to represent a Greek letter organization. Many organizations have symbols and mascots.

MGC                                                                                                                                                                     The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) here at ODU is a collective of two sororities and one fraternity that are members of the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO).

A fraternity or sorority’s national/international headquarters. Usually simply called "national," though most organizations are international, having chapters outside of the US.

New Member/Associate Member
After receiving and accepting a Bid, the person becomes a new member. Formerly called a pledge. Sometimes called Associate Member.

New Member Pin
A distinctive badge worn on the chest designating a new member of a particular fraternity or sorority for the period of time between bid acceptance and initiation. Most organizations require the new member to return the new member pin at initiation in exchange for their member pin.

New Member Class
The group of new members that will be going through the New Member Program and Initiation together. Formerly called a pledge class.

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 Program
The time period where the new member learns about their new fraternity or sorority before initiation. Lasts from Bid day until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period.

Stands for North American Interfraternity Conference, and is the national coordinating body of men's fraternities.


The National Panhellenic Conference is the organization that governs 26 national women's sororities.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the body of the 9 historically African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine Nine. Also the local council for the NPHC organizations.

On the Yard
An NPHC phrase meaning that a chapter is currently chartered on campus.

Open Motto
A short phrase that describes the purpose or outlook of a fraternity or sorority, and is available for all to read. Many organizations also have a Creed or Purpose in addition to an Open Motto, as well as a motto that is only for initiated members.

Order of Omega
An honor society for Greek members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and academic achievement.

Panhellenic Council
The governing body of the National Panhellenic Conference sororities of a particular campus.

A charity or fundraiser that the fraternity or sorority supports. Can be national, local, or both.

Prospective/Potential New Member (PNM)
A person who is interested in joining a Greek letter organization, and will participate in rush, intake, or recruitment.

The final event held by chapters during recruitment. This is more formal than the previous events and usually include a public ritual that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref. 

New Member Presentation
A performance by newly inducted. A way for organizations to showcase the newest members of the organization. These shows are generally done by NPHC and MGC.

A set number of new members a sorority can extend bids to.

Process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus, receives another charter for the same campus. Recolonization/Rechartment can happen because a chapter died out due to low numbers, or had their charter revoked.

A secret ceremony of a Greek organization. Also, the formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the organization was founded. Ritual elements are sacred to each fraternity and sorority and have been handed down through generations. Only initiate members may be privy to rituals.

The process where IFC fraternities and PHC sororities get new members. The formal name is Formal Recruitment. 

Recruitment Counselor
A sorority member who guides a group of potential new members through the recruitment process (this is the practice of NPC). During recruitment they disassociate from their sorority so that they will not bias the potential new members.

See Recruitment.  "Rush" is no longer used as an official term.  

Term that sorority members call each other.  However, each sorority has their own unique definition of a sister!

A Greek organization for women. Many of the 26 NPC sororities are actually fraternities, as many were created before the word sorority was coined. Despite this, most will call themselves sororities.

Step Show
A show performed by NPHC, NALFO, and NMGC organizations (as well as other organizations) which include a combination of stepping and strolling among other activities.

Is a form of percussive dance in which the participant's entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps and hand claps

Sorority member or other woman chosen to serve as a sweetheart of a fraternity, usually chosen because of work she's done with the fraternity.

(Taken from: GreekLife)



ODU Panhellenic Executive Board Positions

President– This position oversees the Panhellenic Community and the Executive Board. They head all of the Panhellenic meetings and hold monthly meetings with the chapter presidents.

Vice President of Standards – This position presides at all meetings in the absence of the President.  They also oversee the Judicial Board and handle all of the violations of Panhellenic.

Vice President of Recruitment – This position coordinates Fall Formal Recruitment activities and holds meetings with the Recruitment Chairs.

Vice President of Membership Development– This position develops programs and provides resources for new members.

Vice President of Public Relations – This position maintains and develops official Panhellenic websites, calendars, and produces all necessary print and marketing ideas needed for Panhellenic.

Vice President of Campus Engagement – This position attends all Senate Meetings, reports back relevant information from the Student Government Association and attends Webb Council meetings on behalf of Panhellenic. This position is also responsible for planning our annual Easter Egg Hunt as well as other philanthropic events.

Vice President of Academics – This position develops scholarship programs, hosts academic programs, and maintains an academic file on all chapters and new members.

Vice President of Operations– This position is responsible for the budgeting of finances and creating updated financial reports. This position is also responsible for recording minutes at each Panhellenic meeting, maintaining and updating rolls of members, and taking attendance at all mandatory events.



Greek Alphabet

Α Alpha
Β Beta
Γ Gamma
Δ Delta
Ε Epsilon
Ζ Zeta
Η Eta
Θ Theta
Ι Iota
Κ Kappa
Λ Lambda
Μ Mu
Ν Nu
Ξ Xi
Ο Omicron
Π Pi
Ρ Rho
Σ Sigma
Τ Tau
Υ Upsilon
Φ Phi
Χ Chi
Ψ Psi
Ω Omega

Panhellenic Council Creed

"We, as undergraduate members of women’s fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community. Cooperation for furthering fraternity life, in harmony with its best possibilities, is the ideal that shall guide our fraternity activities. We, as fraternity women, stand for service through the development of character inspired by the close contact and deep friendship of individual fraternity and Panhellenic Life. The opportunity for wide and wise human service, through mutual respect and helpfulness, is the tenet by which we strive to life."

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Old Dominion University
Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life
1071 Webb Center, Norfolk, VA 23529
Phone: (757) 683-3446