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Fraternity and Sorority Definitions (Greek Dictionary)

As you learn more about fraternity and sorority life, you’ll want to get acquainted with these frequently used terms.

Active
A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity or sorority membership and participates in chapter activities at the collegiate level.
Alumni/Alumnae
Initiated fraternity or sorority members who have graduated from college.
Badge
The pin of an initiated member.
Bid
A formal invitation to membership in a particular fraternity or sorority.
Big Brother or Sister
An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a mentor to a new member, guiding him or her through the new member program and initiation.
Brand
Organizational symbol(s) burned into members, usually on the arms or chest. Relates to scarification practiced by African tribes. Branding is a voluntary process, not a requirement for membership.
Brother
A term used by fraternity members to refer to one another.
Call/Chant
Audible sounds used by members to acknowledge or gain the attention of other members. Calls may vary regionally within organizations, and some organizations may use more than one call.
Chapter
A local group of the larger (inter)national organization, designated by a special
Greek name.
Crossed
the same as being initiated. The term means different things to different groups, but generally means crossing over from being a pledge to being a full member. Most groups record this time to the second. Term also refers to "Crossing the Burning Sands"
DOP/DP
the membership educator. Short for Dean Of Pledges an old term that the groups still use. ADOP/ADP would be the assistant dean.
Drop
the term used to refer to someone who de-pledged, or stopped pledging.
Financial
term used to refer to an active member. (ie. Someone paying dues.)
Executive Office
The central organization of a particular fraternity or sorority. Often referred to as National Headquarters, International Headquarters, or just Nationals.
Frater
a term used to refer to another member of their fraternity. Sometimes they will refer to someone as simply Frat.
Fraternity
The name that applies to all Greek organizations characterized by a ritual, badge and strong ties to friendship and moral principles. Informally, women's fraternities are called sororities.
Grad/Alumni Chapter
The graduate chapter of NPHC or Multicultural organization. Usually the local grad chapter oversees the operations of the undergraduate chapter.
Greek 101
A program to educate new members on about Greek Life at UNLV, responsibilities of being Greek and current issues facing college students.
Greek
Any member of a Greek-letter organization.
Hand sign
used to identify members of the same organization. Most have a deep meaning to that organization or ritualistic symbol.
Informational
recruitment event for culturally based groups.
Initiated Member
Any member who has completed the new member process and has gone through the initiation ceremony.
Initiation
The formal ceremony that marks the beginning of active membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements in order to be initiated.
Intake
The process several chapters perform to recruit, interview, choose, and educate new members.
Interest
title of a potential new member who the group knows is interested. Sometimes these students will band together and form an interest group.
Interfraternity Council (IFC)
The governing body of 11 fraternities at UNLV. IFC operates under the affiliation requirements of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).
Lavaliere
A pendant with a fraternity or sorority's Greek letters on it.
Legacy
The brother or sister, son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter of a fraternity or sorority member. Each (inter)national organization has its own policy regarding legacies.
Line Name
the name given to a pledge class. Some groups do number their lines by Alpha, Beta, Gamma…. But also their line has a name to define them. Many times it is an acronym.
Line
The members of a cultural Greek organization new member class
Membership Recruitment
The mutual selection process that prospective members and chapter members go through during the recruitment period to get to know one another.
National Association of Latin Fraternal Organizations (NALFO)
The representative body governing historically Latino/Latina Greek Letter organizations
Neophyte (aka "Neo")
A new member of a cultural Greek organization
New Member Presentation (aka Rollout, Probate)
a formal presentation of a new line to campus. Usually done in a public forum after members have been initiated
New Member Program
A period of learning about fraternity and sorority life prior to initiation. This period varies for all groups.
New Member Release
To end one's fraternity or sorority membership before initiation.
New Member
A member of a fraternity or sorority who has not been initiated.
NIC (North American Interfraternity Conference)
Governing body for 72 national member men's fraternities and alumni associations.
NPC (National Panhellenic Conference)
The umbrella organization for 26 women's fraternities. NPC supports its chapters by promoting values, education, leadership, friendship, cooperation, and citizenship
NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council)
A national organization composed of four sororities and five fraternities whose membership is historically African-American.
Number
the number you are assigned based on the chronological order you are in on your initiation line (often members of other culturally based organizations identify or relate to one another by distinguishing that they are the "same" number).
Order of Omega - National Greek Leadership Honor Society
Limited to top 3% of members in the Greek Community at UNLV. Must have a GPA at or greater then Greek GPA, junior or senior status, significant leadership and service to the campus and the Greek community.
Para (aka "Nalia")
short for paraphernalia. The different items of Greek clothing or items someone is wearing.
Philanthropy
A charitable fundraiser or service project sponsored by a fraternity or sorority.
Potential New Member (PNM)
A college student who is interested in joining a Greek
Organization and is taking part in the recruitment process.
Preferencing
During the last part of Panhellenic sorority recruitment, a potential new member determines which particular sorority she is willing to join. The potential new member lists three sororities in her order of preference.
Prophyte
term used to refer to an older brother/sister from your chapter
Quota
The specified number of potential new members to which each sorority may extend a bid.
Rho Gamma (Recruitment Guide)
A Panhellenic sorority member who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter during formal membership recruitment. She is specially trained to help potential new members and answer any questions they may have about sorority membership.
Sands (aka Parallel)
A member of your organization or another culturally based organization that was initiated at the same time you were.
Sister
A term used by sorority members to refer to one another.
Social
A get-together event with another Greek organization.
Soror
term used to refer to a sister in a NPHC or Multicultural organization
Stepping
A historically black tradition characterized by synchronized hand foot movements, along with singing, dancing, chanting, and acting. Many Latino/Latina and Multicultural groups participate in stepping as well.
Stroll (aka Party Walk, Party Hop)
A line dance done by members of cultural Greek organizations; usually done at a party or step show.
Surfacing
The first public appearance of a line. More widely used post-1990 by Latino organizations that maintain an aboveground pledge program.
TeeKee
the large necklace worn with large Greek letters on them. Similar to a lavaliere but much larger and often made out of wood.
Total
Total is the allowable chapter size, including both new and initiated members, as determined by the Panhellenic Council.
Yard
the term used to refer to the particular campus or university a chapter is at.