Sorority Vocab

Fraternity & Sorority Vocab

Sororities, like most large organizations, love their nicknames and acronyms! Heard some term that doesn't sound familiar? Use our handy FSL (Fraternity and Sorority Life) glossary below as your personal resource to better understand some of the common lingo in our community!


Identification Terms:

Active: A member who has been initiated into lifelong fraternity or sorority membership and is active at the collegiate level. Also: Initiated Member.

Alumni/Alumnae: Initiated fraternity or sorority members who have graduated from college.

Big Brother or Sister: Also known simply as a Big; An active member of a fraternity or sorority who serves as a 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.

Initiated Member: Any member who has completed the New Member process, has gone through the initiation ceremony, and is currently enrolled in college. Also: Active.

Legacy: The brother or sister, son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter of an initiated fraternity or sorority member. Each national organization or local chapter has its own policy regarding legacies. Being a legacy does NOT mean automatic membership into any chapter. However, the courtesy of recognizing that common tie is given to legacies on behalf of his or her respective relative.

New Member/Associate: A member of a fraternity or sorority who has been initiated.

Recruitment Counselor: A sorority member who has disaffiliated herself from her chapter during Formal Recruitment to serve as a Recruitment Counselor. She is specially trained to help potential new members and answer any questions they may have about sorority membership.

Potential New Member (PNM): A college student who is eligible to participate in Recruitment.

Sister: A term used by sorority members to refer to one another.


Organization Terms:

Chapter: A local group of a larger international fraternal organization (or locally historical collegiate fraternal organization), usually designated by a special Greek-letter name; Structurally akin to a troupe under the umbrella organization of Scouts.

Fraternity: The name that applies to social and value-based organizations characterized by a ritual, pin/badge and strong ties of friendship and moral principles. Informally, most women’s fraternities are called sororities (see “Sorority”).

FSL (Fraternity and Sorority Life): The most inclusive and accurate term referring to the fraternity and sorority community; including all fraternal (brotherly and sisterly), value-based, social organizations in a collegiate community regardless of national or local foundations and conference affiliations.

Greek: A term inherited from popular media culture to refer to fraternities and sororities that is not entirely accurate because it refers only to organizations with Greek-letter names—which does not include all fraternities and sororities, and does include some non-fraternity/sorority organizations.

IFC (Interfraternity Council):  (see: NIC)

NALFO (National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations): The national group of 24 Latino Greek letter organizations. The purpose of NALFO is to promote and foster positive interfraternal relations, communication, and development of all Latino Fraternal organizations through mutual respect, leadership, honesty, professionalism, and education. Any students interested in the establishment of NALFO organizations on campus should stop by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership (OSIL).

NIC (North-American Interfraternity Conference): The fraternity governing body including 75 member organizations in North America which serves to enhance the fraternity membership experience with nine value-based expectations in return. The IFC, or Interfraternity Council is the NIC governing association for all fraternity-affiliated men on the Rollins campus, led by an Executive Board of elected officers from any/all of the represented fraternities on campus.

NPC (National Panhellenic Conference): A national governing organization composed of 26 member sororities, each of which is autonomous as a social, Greek-letter society of women, undergraduates and alumnae. Meaning "All Greek," it is the governing association for all sorority-affiliated women on the Rollins campus, including the associate members of our local and NPHC chapters. The Panhellenic Council, or Panhellenic is led by an Executive Board of elected officers from any/all of the represented campus sororities.

Panhellenic: (see: “NPC”)

NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council): The national group of nine historically African-American fraternities (5) and sororities (4) in North America, also known as the "Divine Nine." Rollins currently is represented by one member sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. which holds an associate seat and representation on the Rollins Panhellenic Council through FSL. Prospective membership runs differently than the NPC process and more information about their membership intake process can be found in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and FSL.


Feature Terms:

Badge: The membership pin of an initiated member.

Initiation: The formal ceremony that marks the beginning of active membership. Each chapter has a different set of requirements in order to be initiated.

International/National Headquarters: The central operational organization of a particular fraternity or sorority to which national organization chapters belong as one of many; Structurally something like the Corporate Headquarters is to a local branch of a business.

New Member Program: New members (see “Bid”) learn the history, ideals and values of fraternity and sorority life; this period is a time of adaptation to the new environment of sorority or fraternity membership. The time frame of the new member program varies for each chapter but is not usually shorter than six weeks, nor much longer than eight.

Philanthropy: A charitable fundraiser or service project sponsored by a fraternity or sorority.

Social: A get-together with another group for a party or other fun occasion.


Recruitment Terms:

Bid: A formal invitation to join a particular fraternity or sorority.

Membership Selection: The individualized process in which organizations decide on new membership through a process designed by their national organization.

Mutual Selection: During sorority Recruitment, each Potential New Member is matched with a sorority based on both the preferences of both the sorority and the Potential New Member. Potential New Members rank the sororities according to preference in a totally confidential computer matching system; Sororities likewise provide a confidential preference list to the computer system. The computer system designs optimal matches based on mutual that mutual preference comparison.

Recommendation: A personal letter of reference provided by an alumna of a national sorority to the local chapter of that sorority on behalf of a Potential New Member participating in Recruitment on that campus. Letters of recommendation do NOT guarantee a bid from any sorority.

Recruitment: The process of mutual selection between prospective members and active chapters to the ends of extending membership into the sorority to Potential New Members.

Adapted from John Carrol University 2010 (