Interested in joining a fraternity or sorority? You're not alone! However, Greek terminology can seem overwhelming at first. You’ll likely hear words and phrases such as neo, prophyte and interest groups, and you may wonder what they mean.
Make sure you're prepared. Use this guide from the experts at Greek Gear to become familiar with common Greek life terms, slang and definitions.
Greek Terminology for the Joining Process
What is a fraternity? What is a sorority? Not anyone can join a sorority or fraternity; you have to be invited.
Each organization has a quota that determines how many people can be invited each year.
Bids are an invitation to join a fraternity or sorority offered to potential new members on recruitment day.
A neophyte, or neo for short, is a term used by sororities to describe someone who is new to Greek life.
A pinning is the ceremony where a new member starts their new member program. This is not an initiation.
The term "new member" comes up in a lot of Greek life terms. A new member program is a short-term period during which a person learns about a sorority or fraternity before actually joining.
New Member Release
A new member release is when a person decides not to join before initiation. New members are also called interests. Sometimes they band together and form an interest group.
For more information on sorority recruitment terms, acronyms and slang, check out our post: Definitions for Sorority Recruitment Lingo & Slang
Greek Life Membership Terms
Once a person has joined a sorority or fraternity, there are several terms to refer to other members.
A prophyte is an older brother or sister from your fraternity or sorority. This could be an elderly person or a senior at your school.
A legacy refers to a relative of someone who is already a fraternity or sorority member. Each organization has its own rules about who qualifies as a legacy. Sands or parallels are members who joined at the same time you did.
An active is someone who has been initiated into a Greek life organization.
That's basically everybody but new members. “Sisters” and “brothers” are some of the most common Greek life terms. This refers to the other members in your organization. Ever heard of Littles or Bigs? These terms are abbreviations for Big (older) sorority sisters or fraternity brothers and Little for new brothers or sisters.
Most sororities and fraternities adopt the practice of Littles and Bigs to create lasting relationships among their members. In sororities, a newly initiated member is assigned a temporary Big to help her learn about the lifestyle and to meet other members. The new person is called a Little. Once a Little has had the chance to get to know all the potential Bigs, there is a ceremony and celebration to reveal the permanent Big/Little partnerships.
Greek Life Party Terminology
Greek life organizations are famous for their parties and social events, so let's take a look at a few common party terms.
A social sounds like just another party, but this is actually a party with two different Greek organizations. This could be a mixer between two sororities or between a sorority and a frat.
Stroll/Party Walk/Party Hop
A stroll, party walk or party hop is a line dance that is usually performed by members at a party.
Greek Life Apparel Terms
There are a lot of clothing items and jewelry related to Greek life. One of the more important is the pin or badge each active member wears. Para or nalia is short for paraphernalia. This is sorority slang for Greek items that members wear.
TeeKee is a large, wooden medallion showing your Greek letters. These medallions are usually worn on necklaces. A lavaliere is a smaller pendant with the letters.
Also, Greek paddles are a very traditional fraternity gift given to members. They can be customized to commemorate pledge classes, as well as Big/Little gifts.
Now that you know how to define Greek life, it's time to look into more ways to connect with your community. Check out our great selection of sorority and fraternity apparel at Greek Gear in a range of prices to meet anyone’s Greek life budget.