Greek Life Vocabulary
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Student Life

I Asked My Non-Greek Friends What These 25 Greek Life Terms Mean, Like They Were A Bunch Of Pledges

Learning the vocabulary is only a small segment of belonging to a life-long second family.

I Asked My Non-Greek Friends What These 25 Greek Life Terms Mean, Like They Were A Bunch Of Pledges

There are soooooo many terms associated with Greek Life. So. Many. So, if you are interested in rushing - take notes. You will definitely need to know what the term "bid" means if you expect to get one!

I reached out to the non-Greeks of my Facebook friend list to provide a definition for Greek Life terms, based on what they thought they meant. The results were... interesting.

1. "Recruitment"

What they said: "trying to get new people to join your chapter and deciding who you want and don't want."

Well, this is off to a great start! Recruitment is essentially just that. It is the formal process of engaging potential new members to join a Greek organization.

2. "Big"

What they said: "when you do something you're not supposed to and it's a biiiiiig mistake."

Uhhhhh, no. Not at all. Big is the nickname for an active member of your Greek organization, who serves as your mentor, but is really more like your "big" sister.

3. "NPC"

What they said: "new pledge class."

....that's creative. NPC is an acronym, but it stands for "National Panhellenic Conference." NPC is the mother organization, so to speak, of the 26 women's fraternities! NPC supports its chapters by promoting sisterhood, morals, academic success and leadership. They're basically your mom in organization form.

4. "Bid"

What they said: "a bet? an offer?"

Well, kinda. A bid is an official invitation to join a Greek organization that typically occurs at the end of recruitment. Receiving a bid is probably the most exciting part of recruitment (because then you get to celebrate!)

5. "Fraternity"

What they said: "just a brotherhood."

No. Ask any fraternity brother and they are most definitely going to say it's a LOT more than "just brotherhood." A fraternity is a Greek organization that bonds their members through ritual, badge (or pin) and strong ties to friendship, philanthropy and moral principles.

Informally, women's fraternities are called "sororities."

6. "Sorority"


What they said: "girls only social club."

A sorority is essentially the same as a fraternity, but they are restricted to women only.

7. "Philanthropy"

What they said: "a way of life."

Philanthropy is a way of life, this is true. Being a part of a Greek organization, it is imperative that you spend your time serving your organization's philanthropy - its charity or service project. Some Greek organizations also sponsor more than one philanthropy!

8. "Chapter"

What they said: "chapter is like a store number, it identifies exactly what and where a Greek is."

What a great way to put it! A chapter is just that, it is the local "branch" of a larger national (or international) Greek organization, designated by a unique Greek name.

Chapter is also the weekly meeting in which important business is discussed!

9. "Social" also referred to as "Mixer"

What they said: "fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are social with one another and other people."

Actually, a social is just a get-together event with one or more other Greek organizations. Typically, there is a fun theme as well, (like "thrift shop finds" or "all-American.")

10. "Dry Rush/Dry Period"

What they said: "not doing anything to get new members."

So, so wrong. First, Greek organizations are constantly recruiting new members (and fans, too!) Whether it is through formal recruitment, continuous open bidding, or just by talking to non-Greeks about Greek life - we are ALWAYS recruiting.

With that being said, dry period/dry rush is simply a time where Greek members must abstain from alcohol, and ensure that they are not in a place where it could be perceived they are drinking (a party, a bar, etc.)

Dry period usually occurs around recruitment or other formal events where it is crucial to be fully sober, healthy and in a good mind space in order to make the best impression on others.

11. "Pledge Class"

What they said: "the class of people you joined with."

Exactly that! Your pledge class is, in fact, the group of people that you went through recruitment with, and were initiated into the organization with.

12. "Initiation"

What they said: "the process of doing quirky and silly tasks as a means of joining a sorority or fraternity."

Nope! Initiation is a very serious, very formal (and very secretive) ceremony in which new members become active in the organization.

13. "Active"

What they said: "a fraternity or sorority that is currently around and has members."

Pretty much. Active means that you are a fully initiated member of a fraternity/sorority that pays their dues, and is not on any probations.

14. "Pin" also referred to as "Badge"

What they said: "either the Greek's mascot/logo you put on your gear, or a password for your national's website."

A badge is the pin of an initiated members. Badges are unique to every sorority and fraternity.

15. "Dirty Rushing"

What they said: "the rush fucking sucked and there were no new recruits."

Haha, no, not really. Dirty rushing is the forbidden act of sorority girls promising PNMs a bid, contacting PNMs outside of recruitment times, giving PNMs gifts or any other form of bribery or prohibited and unethical forms of recruiting.

16. "Hotboxing"

What they said: "that deals with smoking weed, right?"

Nice. Hotboxing in the world of Greek life is when more than one sorority has a member speak to a PNM at one time during recruitment.

17. "Ranking"

What they said: "this is the ranking in the house based on popularity."

Ranking is actually the process of a Greek organization selecting members to return to their house during recruitment. It is also the simultaneous process of a PNM selecting which houses she would like to return to.

18. "Suicide"

What they said: "doing something that will automatically get you removed from a sorority/fraternity."

Suicide is actually much worse than that. It is when an individual ranks only one Greek organization after the preference round of recruitment. if that person does not receive a bid to the one organization that they preferred, they do not receive a bid to any other Greek organization.

19. "PNM"

What they said: "person of notable mention."

Well, PNMs could be a person of notable mention if they wow us during recruitment! PNM stands for "Potential New Member," and it refers to the individuals participating in recruitment.

20. "Dropped"

What they said: "the sorority didn't want you or you didn't want them."

Yes! To elaborate, "dropped" refers to a Greek organization telling an individual not to return to them during recruitment. It is most commonly associated with an individual choosing to remove their affiliation with a particular Greek organization.

21. "Pledge"

What they said: "a promise, an oath of ethos."

This honestly sounds like it would be the case, but it is much more simple. A pledge is a new member of a Greek organization that has not yet been initiated.

22. "Rush"

What they said: "ummm, a game of acceptance in a fraternity or sorority?"

Rush is basically the informal way of saying "recruitment."

23. "Legacy"

What they said: "when someone becomes famous when they are a part of their Greek organization."

Close, but unfortunately close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. A legacy is the son, daughter, brother, sister, grandson or granddaughter of a fraternity or sorority member.

24. "IFC"

What they said: "I fucking can't."

LOL. Funny, but nowhere close. IFC is an acronym for "Interfraternity Council." This is essentially the fraternity version of NPC, they are the governing body of the 12 recognized fraternities.

25. "Founding Member"

What they said: "someone who starts a new fraternity/sorority on campus."

A founding member is a fraternity brother or sister that is part of the first active pledge class of the fraternity or sorority on campus.

Being a part of Greek life has taught me many things, and led me to some amazing opportunities (like having the chance to write this right now.) It is important to know what the jargon we use means so that you know what we are talking about during recruitment (and after.) Learning the vocabulary is only a small segment of belonging to a life-changing organization.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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