It's All Greek To Me! Tulane's Own Greektionary

2023 Panhellenic Council

People are often skeptical of what they don't fully understand. In order to demystify some of the “Greek World,” here is a quick lesson on some of the jargon you'll hear around campus. While some of what you’ll read below is specific to certain organizations, it should help you understand what others are saying when they use these words or phrases.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | N | P | Q | R | S | T


  • Active: A fully initiated member of a fraternity/sorority.
  • Alumna: A member of a women's fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumnae.
  • Alumnus: A member of a men's fraternal organization who is no longer an undergraduate. Plural: Alumni.
  • Aspirant: A prospective member of an NPHC fraternity or sorority
  • Associate Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated into a sorority or fraternity. See also “New Member”


  • Badge: A pin worn by fully-initiated members of each fraternity or sorority that carries its official insignia.
  • Bid: An invitation to join a sorority or fraternity.
  • Big: Nickname for big sister or brother, a mentor assigned to a new member. Many organizations have special names for these pairings.
  • Brother: An active member of a fraternity.
  • Brotherhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same fraternity.


  • Call: A yell used mostly by NPHC organizations (although some NIC, NPC and local organizations have calls as well). Used to identify and greet brothers and sisters.
  • Chapter: A membership unit of a national or international sorority or fraternity.
  • Chapter House: A fraternity or sorority house. All of Tulane's chapter houses are owned and operated by private corporations or organizations. Not all Tulane Greek organizations have housing.
  • Charter: The official document drafted by an inter/national fraternity or sorority that allows for the creation of a local chapter that is affiliated with a college or university campus.
  • Class or “New Member Class”: A term used to name new members of a Panhellenic Council or Interfraternity Council organization who all joined during the same semester.
  • Colony: A new group that is awaiting official recognition from their inter/national organization to have a chapter at a campus.
  • Crest: Insignia used by sorority and fraternity 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.
  • Crossing Ceremony: during which new members of NPHC organizations become active, life-long members of their organization.


  • Depledge: A student who withdraws from a chapter after accepting a bid, but before the student is initiated by a chapter.
  • Dry: Alcohol-free; All recruitment and intake activities are dry, and all fraternities and sororities host several dry events each semester. All national sororities mandate that their chapter houses must be dry, and some national fraternities (though none at Tulane) do as well.
  • Dues: The monetary costs of membership in a fraternity or sorority. These fees are used to cover the costs of operation, formal events, social activities, and community service programming, etc.


  • Expansion: The process used by a national fraternity or sorority to add a chapter of their organization to a campus.
  • Extension: The process used by the Panhellenic Council to invite one or more additional NPC sororities to the campus.


  • Founders Day: An event celebrated by fraternities and sororities to highlight the founding of their organization and celebrate its history.
  • Fraternity: The name applied to Greek organizations including both men’s and women’s organizations. The term "sorority" did not come into use until many women's groups were founded, so many women's groups are technically "women's fraternities."
  • Formal Recruitment: A designated recruitment period during which a series of organized events are held by each NPC sorority. At Tulane, this is organized and implemented by the Panhellenic Council.


  • Greeks: Members of a fraternity or sorority. The term "Greek" is used because a majority of fraternities and sororities use Greek letters to distinguish themselves.


  • Hazing: Any willful act or practice by a member, directed against a member or new member, which, with or without intent, is likely to: cause bodily harm or danger, offensive punishment, or disturbing pain; compromise the person's dignity; cause embarrassment or shame in public; cause the person to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule; cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain; or impair academic efforts. In addition, hazing is any requirement by a member which compels a member or new member to participate in any activity which is illegal, is contrary to moral or religious beliefs, or is contrary to the rules and regulations of the sorority/fraternity, institution of learning, or civil authorities.


  • Initiation: A ceremony during which new members receive life-long membership privileges into the organization they have chosen to be a part of.
  • Informational: A forum for individuals interested in seeking more information about joining a particular NPHC fraternity or sorority.
  • Intake: Term for the process by which National Pan-Hellenic Council members are selected to become new members of an organization. Intake generally includes an application and an interview process, followed by an educational program supervised by alumni, then an initiation (generally known as “crossing”).
  • Interest Group: A group of individuals on campus in the first stage of the process leading to installation as a chapter of a Greek-letter organization.
  • Interfraternity Council (IFC): The Tulane-based “chapter” of the North-American Interfraternity Conference; this is a student-led governing body that supports 11 of the men’s fraternities at Tulane.


  • Legacy: A potential member with an immediate family member who belongs to a particular fraternity or sorority. Each organization has its own definition of a legacy, but the term generally refers to someone with a sibling, parent, or grandparent who is a member.
  • Letters: The combination of Greek symbols that makes up the name of a particular fraternity or sorority; these are generally displayed on clothing and other Greek paraphernalia.
  • Line: A National Pan-Hellenic Council term used to name new members who all joined during the same semester. They are the aspirant/prospective members of the organization.


  • National Order of Omega: A national honor society for fraternity or sorority members who maintain a grade point average above the all-Greek average, have distinguished themselves as leaders in the Tulane Greek community, have exemplary character, and are either juniors or seniors. These individuals are nominated and voted upon by the Greek community and then inducted by current members of the Order at the end of each year.
  • National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): The governing body of the nine national historically-black fraternities and sororities, also known as the "Divine Nine." At Tulane the NPHC also includes our multi-cultural sorority, Delta Xi Nu.
  • National Panhellenic Council (NPC): A national organization comprised of 26 women’s fraternities and sororities, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter society of college women. Currently, seven of these organizations have active chapters at Tulane.
  • Nationals: Informal term for the inter/national headquarters and/or inter/national officers of a fraternity or sorority. The staff members and volunteers of the organizations are responsible for making policies for their chapters at all colleges and universities.
  • Neo or Neophyte: A new member of a National Pan-Hellenic Council organization.
  • North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): A national organization comprised of 69 men's fraternal organizations, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter society of college men.
  • New Member: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity.
  • New Member Educator: The liaison between the new members and the chapter, this officer is responsible for implementing and monitoring the new member program and preparing the new members for initiation.
  • New Member Period: The time period where IFC and Panhellenic new members learn about the history and values of their new sorority and fraternity before initiation. This time frame lasts from bid day until Initiation. Formerly called pledge period.


  • Panhellenic Council (PHC): The Tulane-based “chapter” of the National Panhellenic Conference; this is a student-led governing body that supports seven of the women’s fraternities and sororities at Tulane.
  • Philanthropy: A community service project held by a fraternity, sorority, or both. Tulane Greek students perform a number of these projects each year, and most inter/national fraternities and sororities require their chapters to do one large project per year.
  • Pledge: A person who has accepted a bid but is not yet initiated to a sorority or fraternity. This term is believed to be outdated by some and can be offensive. See also “New Member”
  • Potential New Member: A person who is interested in joining a Greek-letter organization and will participate in IFC or Panhellenic recruitment; often abbreviated to PNM.
  • Preference: The final events held by Panhellenic Council organizations during Formal Recruitment. These events are more formal than the previous events and usually include a ritual that potential new members can participate in. Also known as Pref.
  • Preference Card: Potential New Members sign this after preference, indicating in order which sororities of the ones whose events they attended they liked the most. These cards, along with the organizations’ lists of members they would like, are used to match the PNMs and sororities with one another in a mutual selection process.


  • Quota: A specific number of women to which each Panhellenic Council sorority may extend membership during a formal (spring) recruitment period. This number is determined by the Panhellenic Council each year in conjunction with the National Panhellenic Conference.


  • Recolonize: A process where a fraternity or a sorority that was previously on campus revives its charter to recruit members on the same campus.
  • Recruitment: The process through which Panhellenic sororities and IFC fraternities get new members. Potential New Members tour each house, are invited to different events, and meet members of each organization.
  • Ritual: The traditional rites and ceremonies of a fraternity or sorority; these are almost always private and known only to initiated members of a fraternal organization.


  • Sister or Soror: A term used by members of women's fraternities or sororities when referring to one another. NPC organization members generally use "sister," while NPHC organization members commonly use "soror."
  • Sisterhood: The common term for the bond between members of the same sorority.
  • Step Show: A show often performed by National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Also called Stepping.


  • Total: The maximum number of members a Panhellenic Council sorority may have on a given campus. At Tulane total is reset to the average chapter size each semester.