define greek life

Interested in joining a fraternity or sorority? You’re not alone! There are over 9 million members across the country.

Greek terminology can be as overwhelming as the new lifestyle. Make sure you’re prepared!

This article will help you define Greek life by teaching you a few of the more common terms.

Greek Terminology for the Joining Process

Not anyone can join Greek life; you have to be invited. Each organization has a quota that determines how many people they can invite each year. Bids are offered to potential new members on recruitment day.

A neophyte, neo, or new member is sorority slang for 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 where a person learns about a sorority or fraternity before actually joining. A new member release is when a person decides not to join before they’ve actually been initiated.

New members are also called interests. Sometimes they band together and form an interest group.

Define Greek Life Member 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/sister from your sorority/fraternity. This could be an elderly person or a senior at your school.

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 other 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/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? What are littles anyway? These terms are abbreviations of big sister/brother and little sister/brother.

Most sororities and fraternities use littles and bigs to create lasting relationships between their members.

In sororities, a newly initiated member is assigned a temporary big to help them figure out 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.

Party Greek Terminology

Greek life organizations are famous for their parties, 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 a sorority and a frat.

A stroll, party walk, or party hop is a line dance that is usually done by members at a party or step show.

Clothing & Merchandise Greek Life Terms

There are a lot of clothing items and jewelry related to Greek life. One of the most 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 are usually necklaces. A lavaliere though 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.

Keep Connecting!

Now that you know how to define Greek life, it’s time to look into more ways to connect with your community. Check out these great clothing options!