A Comprehensive Guide to Sorority Terms You Need to Know

Joining a sorority is a fun experience during which you'll learn a lot. It can also be a little overwhelming! You're meeting so many people at once, while also trying put your best self forward. The rush process is a whirlwind, and you might not know what to expect. That's why it helps to be a step ahead in any way you can. One way to do that is to be aware of all the Greek terms that you'll be hearing. Sororities use a lot of "insider" phrases. If you aren't familiar with the Greek system yet, you probably won't ' know them. Learning these Greek terms will help you understand more about sorority life. It will also eliminate a lot of confusion for you during rush. If you're joining a sorority, then you need to be familiar with all of the Greek lingo. Here's a comprehensive list of sorority terms, organized by category

Sorority Terms Related to the PNM Process

At the beginning of the semester, you'll start the Potential New Member (PNM) or "rush" process. Learn these Greek terms to better understand what to expect.


A bid is an official invitation to join a specific sorority. A sorority will give this bid to a pledge, which is the offer to begin the new member process.

Bid Day

This is a day on campus when all the sororities will offer their bids to new members. It's an emotional day filled with lots of excitement.

Continuous Open Bidding

Some sororities give out bids only during bid day. Other sororities have continuous open bidding. They can give out bids any time throughout the semester or school year.


When you're "cut" from a sorority, that means you aren't asked back to further rush events. This could happen after one rush event or after many.

Preference Night

Also known as perfect night, this is the last event during the recruitment process. Generally, this is a formal party. It's the final opportunity for PNM and sisters to get to know each other. Most PNM will visit one or two sororities that night.

Preference Card

After the Pref event, PNM will fill out preference cards. Here, they will rank the sororities in order of the ones they want to join most.

Rho Chi

Depending on the size of your school and the Greek system, you might be broken up into PNM groups. You will travel from sorority to sorority with your group members. The head of this group is your rho chi. She is a sister from one of the sororities who will guide you through the PNM process.

Rush or Potential New Member

You've probably heard the term "rush." A rush is a person attempting to join a sorority. "Rushing" is the act of trying to receive a bid and join a sorority. Many sororities no longer use the term rush, but instead use the term "potential new members."


The quota is the amount of PNM's sororities are allowed to offer bids. This quota generally depends on how many sisters are already in the sorority.

Terms Used Related to the Pledge Process

After accepting a bid, you'll move on to the pledge process. This is when you learn about the sorority and get to know your soon-to-be sisters.


A "big" is an existing sister who is assigned to a "little," who is a PNM. During pledging, a big acts as a mentor to the little. The big/little bond is one that stays strong long after initiation. Bigs give their littles gifts and do activities together to build a relationship.

Big/Little Night

The identity of a big is kept a secret from the little up until big/little night. During the week leading up, big sisters leave clues and presents for their little sisters. Big/little night is the exciting reveal party.

De-pledge or Drop

A drop is when a PNM chooses to stop pledging. After dropping, PNM can't pledge another sorority for a full year.


Initiation is a  ceremony during which PNM officially become sisters.


This is a  ceremony during which PNM are given actual pins. There are two pinnings. One is at the beginning of pledging. This is when the PNM is given a pledge pin. The second is during initiation, when the PNM gets another pin as an official sister.


A pledge is a person who is going through the process of joining a sorority. A pledge is also called a PNM.

Pledge Mom

A pledge mom is a sister who is in charge of the "pledge class." She acts as another mentor alongside the big sister. She is in charge of teaching you about the sorority and its history during weekly pledge meetings.

Other Terms

Here are some miscellaneous terms that you'll hear a lot throughout your time in your sorority.


A chapter is an  individual sorority at a school that is a part of a national organization. Sororities often call their weekly meetings "chapter."

College Panhellenic Council

Meaning "all Greek," this is the organization that oversees all the Greek organizations.


A sorority has two or three official colors. You'll see these colors a lot in your sorority house, on your letter T-shirts and elsewhere.


This is the  sorority house where all the sisters live together. Some sororities don't have houses.

Inactive Member

An inactive member is a sister who is no longer participating in sorority events or paying dues. Inactive members have no say in sorority decisions and don't live in the house.


A legacy is a sister whose family member was also a member of the sorority. Legacies could have gone to that school or belonged to a chapter at another college. Legacies are often given high priority during the PNM process.


These are the Greek letters that represent a sorority name. For example, the letters for Alpha Epsilon Phi are AEPhi. Sorority letters also describe the tee-shirt or sweatshirt with letters on them. Often your letters shirt will be given to you by your big. Only initiated sisters should be wearing letters, not PNM.


A local is a sorority that has no national affiliation. For example, Alpha Delta Alpha is local to Michigan. Delta Zeta Gamma is local to California State University, Stanislaus campus.


This refers to the  national headquarters of a sorority. Nationals oversee all chapters of a sorority at every college.


This is a secret tradition that only initiated sisters are allowed to know about, not PNM. The initiation ceremony will have a few secret rituals.

Are You Thinking of Joining a Sorority?

Though there are a lot of sorority terms to learn, you'll get the hang of them quickly. Joining a sorority is very rewarding. Just remember that, though the PNM process can be daunting, you should just have fun and be yourself. Do you want to learn more about sororities? Check out our blog for more!

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