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 Council (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.