It's all Greek to me: Greek life slang

By Miranda Holloway

Whether you love it or hate it, Greek life is undeniably a formidable institution on campus. The community is somehow both visible and mysterious, and seems to have its own language that doesn’t even involve Greek letters. Study these terms to speak this new dialect of Greek when stepping onto campus.


The term used to refer to the fraternity recruitment process. It is generally informal but is monitored by the InterFraternity Council, which is the governing council for fraternities. Fraternities host events, usually at their houses, where they get to know potential members.


The term for sorority rush. A far more organized process, sorority hopefuls sign up and travel to every house at least once. After two long weekends, placements are made. This is the reason why you see girls zig-zagging across campus in heels, running at full speed. Do not be alarmed.

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An invitation to join a Greek organization. For fraternities, they are generally given out individually. Sorority bids are given on the Greek Life holiday ‘bid day.’ One afternoon, all the people going through sorority recruitment gather in Foellinger Auditorium, get their bid card and run to their respective houses. It is a spectacle only comparable to the running of the bulls.


A tradition in greek life pairing an older member and younger member. Although more prominent in sorority life, it exists in fraternities as well. The pairs are made to help guide younger members through membership and ensure four years of sappy Instagram pictures.

Pledge fam (ily)

Similar to big and little but crosses fraternity/sorority lines. A pledge marriage between a fraternity brother and sorority sister is usually of two good friends rather than romantic interests. The marriage is usually propositioned with a ring pop or similar offering. The respective littles of the betrothed are adopted into the blended family by their new mother or father.


Although not a Greek-exclusive activity, block is a Saturday morning ritual to numb the pain of Illini football. A fraternity and sorority pair up to get neat shirts and reserve a space at a campus bar during home games. The pairing comes after months of serenades and gifting by fraternities and deal brokering by social chairs.


This is the fancy name for the meetings Greek organizations hold on a weekly basis. They differ by organization in length and formality, but usually involve discussing issues, plans, and other assorted business.


The week leading up to initiation, which is usually steeped in ritual and a little bit of tomfoolery. Initiation (see below) is a very serious time, so much of the time leading up to the ceremony is spent preparing new members for what they can expect as full-fledged members.


When new members become official members. After the new member period of learning about the organization, this ceremony grants official membership. After this ceremony, the expectations of membership will be expected. The ritual itself is secretive to the organization and is usually referred to with a cult-like enthusiasm.

Miranda is a junior in Media.
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