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❀ Ultimate Grand Supreme Glossary of Sorority Terms! ❀


Active: A collegiate member who has completed her new member/ pledge period and has been initiated into lifelong sorority membership. 

Advisor: An alumna member of a sorority that serves as a mentor to a collegiate chapter officer.

Alumna: A female college graduate. Some organizations confer this status after an initiate has been a member for four or more years.

Alumnae: The plural of alumna. Every sorority has alumnae chapters around the country for members to stay involved with post graduation.  

Alumnae Initiate: Several NPC sororities offer membership opportunities to post-graduate women who never attended college or did not have the chance to experience Greek life at their school. They may join the organization as alumnae initiates, support their alumnae chapters and assist collegiate chapters by becoming advisors and volunteers.

Babies: Term used by some sororities to refer to their new members. “Babies” is used instead of the word pledges.   

Badge: The pin of an initiated member.

Banner: Extra large fabric signs designed and painted by sororities for special occasions such as bid day, parents weekend or greek week. These banners are traditionally hung on the front of the sorority house.  

Bid: A formal invitation to join a particular sorority.

Bid Day: The final day of recruitment when bids are given out. Can also be a Bid Night. 

Bid Matching: The membership procedure used during sorority formal recruitment. Each PNM (potential new member) submits a prioritized choice of sororities she would like to join. Each sorority also submits a prioritized list of PNMs to whom they wish to extend a bid. A computerized process is used to match the priorities of both. Every PNM may not receive her first choice, as there is a maximum on the number of bids allowed. 

Big Sister: Each new member is given a “Big” who serves as a mentor, guide and closest friend throughout the new member period and initiation. This bond remains even after the new member has initiated. Also called “Biggie”. 

Candlelighting: A ceremony conducted by a sorority to celebrate the engagement of one of the sisters in the chapter. Members form a circle, hold hands and sing as they pass a candle around multiple times until the newly engaged sister blows out the candle. Each chapter has a special song for candlelighting ceremonies. 

Chant: Rhythmic sorority cheering accompanied by vigurous clapping. Chants are a catchy mix of song and poem, which prominently feature the name of the chapter. They are used during recruitment and other Greek events. 

Chapter: An individual collegiate group of a larger inter/national organization, designated by a specific Greek name. Some sororities refer to their weekly meeting as “chapter”. Other terms used include chapter house, chapter room and chapter chair. 

Chapter Advisor: An alumna of a sorority who establishes and maintains a close advisory relationship with a chapter. She assists members and officers in all areas of chapter operations.

Chapter Total: The allowable chapter size for Panhellenic sororities, as determined by the Panhellenic Council.

Charter: The document issued from a headquarters to a chapter that indicates the group is a full-fledged member of the national or international organization. 

Colony: A newly formed sorority organization on campus that has yet to receive their charter recognizing them as a chapter. Colonies have to fulfill requirements set by the college and their inter/national organization before becoming a chapter.

Composite: Individual sorority portraits collected into an extra large group format row by row, nicely framed and hung in a prominent spot in the sorority house. A composite also includes the chapter name, crest and dates.  

Continuous Open Bidding (COB): An informal process for sororities to accept new members throughout the year. Chapters which have not reached their quota may participate. COB is also useful for PNMs who did not receive a bid during formal rush.

Crafting: The primary pass-time of sorority members who need gifts for their bigs and littles. Popular sorority crafts include plaques, picture frames, painted greek letters and pin boxes. Cooler painting is a crafting tradition for gifting to formal date fraternity men, or for special occasions such as Steeplechase.

Creed: Statement which expresses the primary beliefs of the sorority. It sums up everything the chapter stands for. The creed is established and endorsed by the inter/national organization. A chapter may also have a shorter, more concise, ”mission statement”.

Cut: During formal recruitment, chapters “cut” PNMs from their lists after each day of rounds. Cutting is the process of narrowing down the pool of applicants to the numbers needed for each pledge class. PNMs who are not compatible with the sisterhood are cut and not asked back for the next round. 

Dad’s Weekend: Annual tradition on many campuses, where father’s are welcomed for two days of chapter activities. Wearing custom father/daughter tee shirts is a highlight. Sororities also host sibling weekends, family weekends and mother’s teas. 

Dangle: An achievement ”charm” that is added to a sorority member’s badge and guard. Dangles represent things such as leadership positions held and academic achievements.

Date Party: Like a formal, but more casual. Some sororities host a date party one semester, and a formal or semi-formal the other.

Deferred Recruitment: Some universities do not have Fall Formal Recruitment. Their Recruitment is ‘deferred’ until Winter or Spring. 

De-Pledge: To terminate one’s sorority membership before initiation.

Disaffiliate: When a member temporarily removes her association from her chapter during recruitment. She does this to serve as a recruitment counselor. 

Door Decor: The tradition of decorating a new member’s dorm door with the chapter mascot, signs, streamers, and other embellishments to welcome her to the sisterhood. Doors are also decorated for big/little week, birthdays and other special occasions. 

Door Stack: The sorority house door swings open and the sisters inside are stacked from top to bottom. This recruitment formation is known as a door stack. Chapters also pose in stair stacks. 

Dues: Fees paid to the sorority organization. Dues must be paid to remain in “good standing” with the chapter. 

Early Alum: The process by which an sorority member leaves collegiate status prior to her actual college graduation. Reasons for going early alum include: graduating the upcoming semester, transferring to a campus where there is no chapter, transferring but not affiliating with a new chapter, leaving school completely, engagement, marriage or pregnancy. Early Alum allows a member to retain here membership when active participation is not an option.

E-Board: The sorority Executive Board or Executive Council which includes the elected executive officers of the chapter (i.e. President, Vice Presidents, Secretary, etc).

Formal Recruitment: The organized process of mutual selection between potential new members and the NPC chapters. Formal rush includes orientation, a series of rounds, preference night and final bid day. This schedule is governed by the school’s Panhellenic Council.

Fraternity/Sorority: The name that applies to Greek letter organizations characterized by a ritual, a badge, and a strong tie of friendship. Some women’s sororities are actually fraternities. 

Good Standing: A sorority sister who has fulfilled all of her membership obligations, such as paying dues, maintaining the required GPA and attending mandatory events.

Greek: Member of a sorority so called because the organization bears a Greek letter name.

Greek Week: A week where all of the greek organizations on campus come together for bonding activities and friendly competitions.

Families: The extended family tree of bigs, littles, grand bigs, grand littles and twittles. Sorority families have unique names, and they wear matching shirts, accessories or costumes at big/little reveal. 

Formal: A dressy themed dance held once a year. Each member brings a date and awards are given during the evening. 

Formal Recruitment: Organized system of rounds during a 5-7 day period where sisters hold conversations with PNMs in timed sessions. The Panhellenic Council organizes and supervises the week, each round is themed and concludes in a huge bid day and parties for each chapter. 

Founders: The founding sisters of the inter/national sorority. Founder’s Day is celebrated by the chapters in honor of their founders. 

Hand Signs: “Throw what you know” is the phrase used for demonstrating your sorority hand signs. Each chapter has a unique finger formation that symbolizes their greek letters. Some chapters have more than one hand gesture. Others have full body signing. 

Hazing: Any action, or situation, created to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule. Sororities have strict anti-hazing policies.

Headquarters: The central building where the national or international organization operates. 

House: Many universities have physical houses dedicated to each sorority. This is where all, or a portion, of the sisters live. Some members also refer to the entire organization as a “house”.

Informal Recruitment: A more relaxed method of recruitment held on the alternate semester from formal recruitment. Informal rush is an opportunity for PNMs who didn’t join before, transfer students and older girls to pledge a sorority.

Infraction: When a sorority, or a sorority member, breaks a recruitment rule set forth by the Panhellenic Council.

Initiation: The formal ceremony which marks the beginning of active membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements in order to be initiated. The ritual of initiation is kept confidential by each sorority.

Lavaliere: Necklace bearing the greek letters of a sorority. Usually the letters are stacked in a vertical design.

Lawn Letters: The oversized wooden letters that sororities design, paint and display at all their important Greek events. Posing with the giant lawn letters is a bid day tradition.  

Legacy: The daughter, granddaughter or sister of an alumna or active sorority member. Each local chapter has its own policy regarding offering membership to legacies. Being a legacy does not mean automatic membership into a particular chapter. A legacy is pledged on her own merits. Some chapters extend legacy qualification to a stepmother, stepsister, or aunt as well.  

Letters: The greek letters of a sorority name. Wearing letters is an honor, and comes with rules of conduct. A sorority member is “always wearing her letters”.  

Little: Each new member is called a little sister. She is given a “big” that serves as a mentor and guide throughout the new member period. The big/little relationship is primary within the chapter. There is a ceremonial reveal, gift giving, appreciation weeks and other bonding traditions. This relationship remains strong even after the new member has been initiated.  

Mascot: Along with the other sorority symbols, such as the chapter flower, colors, crest and jewels, the mascot symbolizes the heart and soul of the sorority. Mascots are usually animals. They are depicted in images, on products and costumes. 

Meet the Greeks: An organized event prior to recruitment where each sorority sets up a table display designed to promote their chapter and attract interest in membership. Members staff the table and speak to PNMs about the benefits of Greek life. 

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): The umbrella organization of 26 inter/national women’s fraternities and sororities. “The National Panhellenic Conference will be the premier advocacy and support organization for its members, member groups, college and alumnae panhellenics and a proponent of women’s fraternity membership.” 

New Member: A member of a sorority who has not been initiated. Some organizations refer to new members as pledges, babies or the name of their sorority mascot. They are part of a new member/pledge class.

New Member Educator: An initiated member of the sorority who serves as the new member class’ “teacher”. She is their guide throughout the new member period.

New Member Period/Program: The time between pledging and initiation where the new member learns about the sorority before becoming initiated. The process, prescribed by the sorority headquarters, teaches the history, ideals, and values of chapter life. It is typically 8-10 weeks long.

Notifier: A cute name sign used on bid day to “identify” the new member by name. Notifiers are designed to match the bid day theme. They are either attached to a stick, hung around the neck, or hand held.  

Open House: The first part of formal recruitment, during which the potential new members visit all the chapters participating in rush. Open houses can also be held during informal recruitment, and on other occasions. 

Paddle/Plaque: A special gift in the sorority world. Usually hand crafted and given between bigs and littles. Sometimes paddles are also given to a new member educator from the entire pledge class. Variations on the paddle/plaque exchange include pillows, memo boards or glasses. 

Panhellenic Council (Panhel): Meaning “all Greek,” it is the governing council on each campus for the NPC sororities. The council oversees the chapters and coordinates sorority activities. Representatives from each sorority serve on the Council. 

Philanthropy: The non-profit organization supported by a chapter. Usually philanthropy affiliation is officially established by the inter/national organization. Chapters may also partner with individual local charities. Members spend community service hours fundraising and volunteering for their philanthropy.

Pinning: There are two different kinds of pinning. First is the ceremony where new members receive their pledge pins. The second is when a fraternity man gives his pin to a sorority member and she becomes “pinned”, or pre-engaged to him. 

Pledging Ceremony: The ceremony to recognize the official commitment to become a new member of the sorority. New members receive their pledge pin at this time.

Pledge Pin: The pin of a pledge/new member, which indicates their commitment to the organization from the time of pledging until initiation. 

Points: The system of either adding or subtracting points in relation to attendance and participation. Points are calculated when a member misses a chapter meeting, study hours, rush or initiation. The organization of points varies from chapter to chapter. May also include fines and/or rewards. 

Potential New Member (PNM): A college woman who is participating in Panhellenic formal, informal or open membership recruitment. 

Preference Card: On the last night of recruitment each PNM will receive a card to write down her choices for which sorority she would like to join ~ in the order they should be considered. First choice, second choice, etc.

Preference Night (Pref): The final stage in the recruitment process in which the PNMs are invited to a formal evening event. Traditionally, PNMs visit two sorority houses for a special round of singing, ceremonies and candlelight. This is the last party before PNMs and chapters make their final decisions about membership.

Presents: An official ceremony in which a pledge class is formally presented as sorority members to their friends and families. Traditionally  members wear long white gowns for presents, or fancy short white dresses. 

Probation: A sorority member is put on probation if she has not fulfilled part of her membership requirement or has violated social standards. 

Quota: The maximum number each sorority can pledge during formal recruitment. This number is determined by the Panhellenic council at each school and is based on many different factors.

Recommendation (Rec): A personal letter of reference provided by an sorority alumna to the local chapter. Letters of recommendation do not guarantee an invitation to join a sorority, but they are helpful during recruitment. They may be procured from a personal friend of the PNM, or from an area alumna.

Recruitment: Also known as Rush. Formal recruitment is the official structure for new members to join a sorority. It is a mutual selection process where the PNM’s and a chapter chose based on their perfect fit. Informal recruitment is also a means to acquire new members and is held during the alternate semester. Open recruitment is the on-going acceptance of new members. 

Retreat: A weekend get-away for the new member class, or the entire chapter. Includes a series of games, learning sessions and bonding activities. 

Reveal: The event where bigs are revealed to their littles. Following a week of secret clues and gifts, the big sisters stage a surprise revealing to their littles. 

Rho Gamma: Also called Rho Chi, Gamma Chi, or Recruitment Counselor. A NPC member who temporarily disaffiliate from her sorority to assist PNMs in navigating formal recruitment. Rho Gammas serve as group guides, and are charged with providing impartial assistance to PNMs making sorority selections. 

Ritual: Secret ceremonies performed by sorority chapters, which are prescribed and endorsed by their headquarters. Rituals are the outward depiction of the sorority’s stated values, aims, and principles.

Rounds: The different events of formal recruitment.  Each sorority throws their own “party”, organized into timed rounds, for PNMs to attend.

Rush Crush: A PNM who is a desirable candidate for the sorority. Specifically a sister’s ‘crush’ who the chapter simply must have in their house.

Serenade: Asinging performance by one Greek chapter to another.

Silence: This is a period when sorority members are not allowed to talk to PNMs. It usually starts when recruitment begins and lasts until bid day. Also, PNMs are urged not to discuss recruitment with family, friends, or fraternity men. Silence helps to prevent undue pressure on PNMs. 

Sister: A term used by sorority members to refer to one another. The entire chapter is called a Sisterhood.

Slogan: A succinct one sentence statement that summarizes the primary value held by the sorority. 

Snap Bid: During the bid matching process of formal recruitment, a chapter not reaching quota offers a bid to a PNM who was not matched with any of her choices. This opportunity occurs after preference night and before bid day. The sorority “snaps up” a PNM who may have otherwise gone bid-less. The PNM may accept or decline the offer. If she accepts, she then participates in bid day like everyone else. 

Social/Mixer: When two Greek organizations, usually a sorority and fraternity, but can also be two sororities, get together to do a planned activity. Sisterhood Socials are parties held within the chapter. 

Sorority Man: A male who is elected by the members of a sorority for his dedication and contributions to the success of the chapter. He is usually permitted to wear the sorority letters.

Stitched Letter: Greek letters that are actually sewn on a shirt or bag. Some chapters have rules about which point in their membership period you are allowed to wear stitched letters. In some chapters you have to be an initiated member to wear the stitched letters, and in others you may wear them from bid day forward. 

Suiciding: When a PNM chooses only one sorority, to the exclusion of all others, on her preference card. Also known as Intentional Single Preference (ISP). Not recommended.

Symbols: Every sorority has their own collection of insignia which holds special significance. Each sorority has a crest, specific colors, a flower and mascot/symbol. Many chapters also have a designated jewel and a slogan. 

Unaffiliated: A term used to describe students who are not members of a greek organization. The slang term is GDI. 

Tabling: The attractive table displays used by sororities to promote their chapter and “advertise” to PNMs. Elements of a tabling includes: large greek letters, photo boards, crafts, scrapbooks, mascots, paddles, tee shirts, banners and more. Often a sorority tent is also included. Sorority members staff the table and speak to PNMs about their chapter. 

Tee Shirt: The #1 accessory of every sorority member. Tee shirts are designed and worn for every single chapter event ~ including recruitment, socials, mixers, formals, philanthropy, panhellenic events, etc. Other popular shirts include the spirit jersey and the frocket. After graduation the shirts can be made into a keepsake Tee Shirt Quilt. 

Tote Bag: No bid day is complete without the official sorority tote filled with welcome gifts for the new member. 

Twiddle: Twin littles. When a big has two littles, the two littles are called twiddles.

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