Greek Glossary

Greeks often use specific terminology related to their activities and membership.  Here are some terms frequently used in Greek life.

Active: A fully initiated member of a sorority or fraternity.

Alumnae: Graduated members of a sorority (singluar is alumna).

Alumni: Graduated members of a fraternity (singluar is alum).

Badge: Also known as a pin, a piece of jewelry given to initiation members worn to identify their membership in the organization.  Typically worn to official events, it is only worn while in business like attire, and usually worn over the heart and above all other pins.

Bid: A formal invitation to join a Greek organization.

Brother: An active member of a fraternity.
Chapter: A local group of a national organization.

Continuous Open Bidding (COB): A time after formal NPC sorority recruitment when bids may still be extended and accepted.  Not all NPC Chapters participate in COB.

Crossing: Ceremony during which new members of multicultural Greek organizations become active, life-long members of their organization.

Fraternity: A Greek organization for men.  Many of the older women's organizations are offically known as fraternities rather than sororities.  Also refers to co-ed Greek organizations.

Greek: A sorority or fraternity member.

Inter-fraternity Council (IFC): The governing body of fraternities.

Initiation: Ceremony during which new members of NPC and IFC organizations become active, life-long members of their organization.

Intake: Period where students interested in MGC or NPHC organizations can receive a bid to join.

Legacy: A person whose parent, grandparent, or sibling was an active member of a sorority or fraternity.

Multicultural Greek Council (MGC): An umbrella organization at GW consisting of members of NALFO, and Asian Interest Greek letter organizations on campus.

National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO): National umbrella council for Latino Greek letter organization.  There are 24 member organizations; three of these organizations are represented on GW’s campus, and are members of the Multicultural Greek Council.

North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC): International organization that governs 66 inter/national fraternities. 

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): The governing body of the nine traditionally African American fraternities and sororities, also known as the "Divine Nine."  Currently, four NPHC organizations are represented on GW's campus.

National Panhellenic Conference (NPC): An umbrella organization for 26 inter/national women's fraternities and sororities, eight of which have chapters on GW’s campus.  These groups are members of the Panhellenic Association.

New Member: A person who has accepted a bid to an NPC or IFC organization but has not been initiated yet.

Panhellenic Association (Panhel): A group of sorority women who govern, as a unit, the Panhellenic chapters on a campus.
Potential Member: A student who is not yet part of a Greek organization but is interested in Greek life.

Quota: A specific number of women that each NPC sorority may extend membership to. Determined by the Panhellenic Association.

Recruitment: Formal process where interested women can learn more about NPC organizations and be asked to join.

Ritual: Private ceremony of a Greek organization. The formal document that contains the secret principles and ideals upon which the organization was founded.  Only initiated members are privy to the ritual; learning the ritual is usually a part of the initiation ceremony.  Ritual is sacred and unique to each inter/national organization and is the common bond between all members of an sorority or fraternity, regardless of when or where they were initiated.

RoCo (Recruitment Counselor): An NPC sorority woman who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter in order to guide potential members through Formal Sorority Recruitment and provide unbiased assistance.

Rush: Period where interested men can learn more about IFC organizations and be asked to join.

Sister: An active member of a sorority.

Soror: A member of an NPHC sorority.  This term is usually not used by NPC sororities.

Sorority: A Greek letter organization for women.  Many sororities are officially fraternities; however, most refer to themselves as sororities.