Greek Life: 12 Common Sorority Terms and Phrases

Have you considered joining a sorority?

Want to learn more about college Greek life?

Sorority recruitment is both an exciting and sometimes overwhelming process for young women.

There is a lot of new information you will receive, big decisions to be made, and a whole new language to learn!

Maybe not a whole new language, but there are a few terms sororities use that you may not be familiar with.

Learn these terms to help limit your recruitment stress!

  • Potential New Member (PNM)

A potential new member is a woman who has not yet joined a sorority but is participating in recruitment. Once you register for recruitment you will be considered a potential new member.

  • Recruitment

The first process in joining a sorority. Recruitment takes place over the span of several days during both semesters at the majority of universities. After each day, both the potential new members and sororities will rank one another based on compatibility. As the week goes on, the number of houses you will attend becomes smaller until you make your final decision!

  • Rush

Another name used for recruitment.

  • Sister

A sister is a member of your sorority.

  • Philanthropy

Philanthropy supports a concern or cause in the world. Each sorority has their own philanthropy in which they support through various fundraisers and events.

  • Preference Party (Pref.)

Preference party is the last day of recruitment. The houses you visit during preference night are usually your top choices. This is a very important night for both potential new members and the sororities because it is the last impression. Preference parties are usually much more serious than the previous days of recruitment and may include a special ceremony put on by each sorority.

  • Bid

A bid is an invitation to join a specific sorority. Potential new members will receive their bid at the end of recruitment.

  • Bid Day

Bid day is the time potential new members receive their bid invitation and marks the official end to recruitment. Prior to bid day, potential new members and the sororities rank their top choices.

  • New Member/“Pledge”

A new member or “pledge” is a woman who has joined a sorority but has yet to be initiated. The new member period usually consists of learning the history and beliefs behind your sorority.

  • Pledge Class

A pledge class is a group of girls who have joined a sorority during the same year and semester.

  • “Big” and ”Little”

New members will receive a “big” during their new member period. A “big” is a mentor and role model to look up to within your chapter.

Many sororities have a “big” and “little” process where new members get a chance to spend time with each potential “big”. At the end of the process, both the “bigs” and “littles” rank one another to determine who will be paired up.

It is common for a “big” and “little” to actually call each other “big” and “little”!

  • Initiation

Initiation is the process of becoming an active member of your sorority. The initiation ceremony is often based on the traditions of your groups founding members.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Read my post: Should I Join A Sorority?

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Jane Marie Trombly

Jane Marie Trombly

Jane Trombly is a junior at Central Michigan University pursuing a degree in apparel merchandising with a minor in journalism. She has also participated in a study abroad program at the University of East London. At school, Jane is an active member of the Greek community, and CMU’s fashion association. In her spare time, Jane enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, and writing for her very own fashion blog.
Jane Marie Trombly

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