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Sorority Speak Glossary | mazi + zo sorority jewelry

Never mind the Greek, Sorority speak is a whole other language!

Do you know what the 4B's are? Baby Squirrels? Or what bumping means to a sorority woman??

Article: The Ultimate Sorority Glossary: A-B

The Ultimate Sorority Glossary: A-B

Like many private organization, sororities use tons of unique terms and abbreviations for sorority life  like "pomping", "doorstack", “C.O.B.”, and "dirty rush". But they also use familiar words that take on totally different meanings, like "standards", "silence", and "work week".

Whether you're anticipating recruitment, a newbie to sorority life, an active sister at a school where Greek Life is less intense, or just curious, we're putting together your go-to sorority glossary to help you understand it all.

There's a LOT to cover so we're starting with A-B and will keep going. We're saving the acronyms for last! We're trying to be comprehensive but we're sure we'll miss some so please message us with your adds and let us know if you think we got it wrong. 

Abolish Movement: The abolish movement in Greek life is a campaign aimed at dismantling sororities and fraternities due to issues like exclusivity, hazing, racism, and sexual misconduct. Advocates argue that Greek organizations perpetuate harmful behaviors and create unequal social environments on college campuses. They believe these groups, rooted in long-standing traditions, often resist change and maintain detrimental practices.

The movement engages in various actions to promote a more inclusive campus culture. Advocates raise awareness through social media campaigns, articles, and public speaking events, educating the community about the issues associated with Greek life. They organize protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations to draw attention to their cause and pressure university administrations to act.

To emphasize the need for change, the movement collects and shares testimonials from current and former Greek life members who have experienced or witnessed harmful behaviors. Activists create petitions and formally request universities to disband Greek organizations, presenting their case to university leaders. They collaborate with other student groups focused on social justice, mental health, and campus safety to build a broader coalition for change.

The response from Greek life to the abolish movement is varied. Some members take a defensive stance, highlighting the positive aspects of sororities and fraternities, such as lifelong friendships, leadership development, philanthropy, and academic support. Others call for reform, advocating for stricter anti-hazing policies, improved diversity and inclusion efforts, and better education on sexual misconduct.

Many chapters engage in dialogue with the abolish movement, seeking to understand concerns and work towards solutions. However, some resist the calls for change, viewing the movement as an attack on their traditions. Greek organizations also launch public relations campaigns to highlight their positive contributions, such as community service and charitable fundraising.

In essence, the abolish movement seeks to create a safer, more equitable, and inclusive college experience for all students, while Greek life members respond with a mix of defense, reform advocacy, engagement, resistance, and public relations efforts.

(We wish this wasn’t the first entry in the glossary – not exactly the vibe we wanted to start with!)

Active: A collegiate sorority member who has completed their new member period and has been initiated into membership.

Advisor: A person who serves as a mentor to a collegiate chapter officer and helps out during recruitment, fundraisers, and other big events. This advisor is typically an alumna member of the same sorority, but often from a different chapter than the one they advise. Some chapters have a single advisor, while others have a team called a CCAB that fulfills this role-- see below! 

Alumna/Alumnae: The feminine term for a college graduate. However, there are special cases where sororities confer this status to members who have not yet graduated. Some sororities grant alumna/alumnae status to students who have been active members for four years, even if they have not completed their degree requirements. Additionally, members experiencing health issues or financial difficulties that prevent them from graduating may still be considered alumnae by their sorority. In other instances, if a member transfers to a school that does not have a chapter of her sorority, she may be given alumna status. The specific criteria for granting alumna/alumnae status to non-graduates can vary from one sorority to another so check with your sorority’s headquarters if you’re thinking about it.

Alumna Initiate: Alumnae initiates are outstanding women in their community who may not have attended a school that had sororities, or who were not interested in the collegiate sorority experience but now want the benefits of lifetime sisterhood. These initiates demonstrate strong interest in the sorority alumna experience, maybe by participating in community service projects or supporting a collegiate chapter. A potential alumna initiate usually needs a sponsor and/or letters of recommendation and commits to learning the sorority’s rituals and traditions. Alumna Initiations don’t happen often which can make them feel even more special than traditional initiations. NOTE: This is not the same as honorary membership which is more like an honorary degree that is given without obligation or exposure to rituals.

Alumnae Chapter: Every NPC and NPHC sorority maintains alumnae chapters across the country, giving members an easy way to remain involved after graduation. These chapters consist of sorority members from various collegiate chapters coming together for social events, philanthropic projects, professional meetups, and more. The time commitment is generally less intensive compared to the collegiate chapter experience. Alumnae chapters also collaborate with local collegiate chapters at times. They may get together to celebrate significant occasions like Founders Day or join forces for community service activities. 

The collegiate members often reach out to nearby alumnae chapters for support in recruitment efforts, resume workshops, networking opportunities – essentially any area where more experienced alumnae can provide valuable guidance and mentorship. Alumnae chapters foster lifelong connections, offer alumnae an opportunity to to learn from other members, and facilitate continued engagement with the sorority. On a personal note, one of our favorite things about our alumnae chapter is that when a few of us get together to celebrate professional and personal wins, meet for dinner or a show, or grab drinks on a summer Friday, the age range can be 22-73 and we really value those intergenerational friendships, in both directions! Strong recommend!

4B’s: The "4B's" of sorority recruitment are key topics members are advised to avoid discussing during the recruitment process: Boys, Booze, Bucks, and Beliefs. These guidelines help keep conversations positive, inclusive, and focused on sisterhood. It's worth noting that the specific B's can vary, with some people referring to the guidelines as the "3B's" or the "5B's," incorporating a combination of topics like Ballots, Bars, Bible, Brothers, and Buildings in addition to the ones below. Here, we're including the most commonly recognized ones.

Boys: Discussions about relationships or dating can create unnecessary drama and distract from the purpose of recruitment. Focusing on personal connections and the sorority experience fosters a more welcoming environment for all potential new members (PNMs).

Booze: Conversations about alcohol or partying are discouraged to maintain a respectful and responsible atmosphere. Recruitment is about showcasing the sorority's values, achievements, and sisterhood, not social life aspects that might not align with everyone's experiences or expectations.

Bucks: Avoiding discussions about wealth and material possessions helps maintain an inclusive atmosphere. Talking about money or luxury vacations can make some PNMs feel uncomfortable or alienated. The focus should be on the sisterhood and shared experiences rather than financial status. It is important to note, though, that members are obligated to review the sorority’s dues structure during recruitment so each PNM understands the commitment.

Beliefs: Avoiding discussions about religion or politics ensures that all PNMs feel comfortable and respected, regardless of their backgrounds or personal views. Recruitment is a time to highlight the inclusivity and diversity within the sorority, emphasizing shared values and goals rather than differences.

By steering clear of the 4B's (or 3B's or 5B's, depending on the variation), sorority members create a positive, inclusive, and respectful environment during recruitment. This approach helps PNMs feel more at ease and focused on forming genuine connections, ultimately leading to a more successful recruitment process. 

PNMs are also advised to stay away from these topics during recruitment conversations, but there might be times when it makes sense. We’ll cover that in another post!

Babies: Some sororities use the term "babies" to refer to their newest member class instead of calling them "new members" or "pledges." It's an affectionate nickname, but not every new member is into being called a "baby". There's no rule that says you have to call the newbies "babies" - it just depends on the specific sorority and chapter. 

Baby Squirrels: Used by recruiters to describe PNMs who seem overly nervous or high-strung during recruitment events. While not always intended to be derogatory, we don’t think anyone would *like* to be called a “baby squirrel” and it’s also totally normal to get the jitters during recruitment. We hope this expression falls out of use.

Badge: A badge is a pin that's given to a member upon sorority initiation and worn for specific events. Some chapters wear their badge to every chapter meeting and others reserve badges for occasions that incorporate sorority rituals. Each sorority has an official badge design, so every member of that sorority has the same basic badge. However, the badges may come in different variations, including the type of metal used or the addition of gemstones or other embellishments to personalize it. A sorority badge remains an iconic symbol of a member's lifelong affiliation with their sorority. Members who want to show off their sorority spirit on a more everyday basis put their letters on everything from sweatshirts and water bottles to pillows and pajamas and, of course, sorority jewelry 😉.

Bama Rush: (also #bamarush and #rushtok) A term describing social media content, primarily on Tiktok and Instagram, that floods feeds before and during sorority Fall formal recruitment. This phenomenon started in 2020 and “Bama” refers specifically to the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) which has the largest Greek Life population. Many other schools participate as well. PNMs, members, and spectators create this content and it can include OOTD and GRWM, confessional style updates throughout the process, choreographed dance routines, outfit brand/cost breakdowns and speculation on Bid Day outcomes. 

Basement Girls: refers to members who work behind the scenes during recruitment (and sometimes the associated social media) while other members interact with PNMs. In some cases, it’s the member’s personal choice if they don’t feel they have the energy to best represent the chapter to PNMs. OTOH, it could be a directive because someone determines that the member’s vibe or looks don’t fit the desired image. Or for some other reason that might turn off potential members during recruitment. We hate this thinking because every member of your sorority represents members of your sorority-- hiding someone is unkind. Let’s show a little grace here. We don’t love this term because it can sound disrespectful.

Bid: An official invitation to join a sorority. (Welcome home!)

Bid Day (or Bid Night): The final day of formal recruitment when bids are distributed. Different schools handle this in various ways. At the University of Alabama, all PNMs gather in the Bryant-Denny Stadium to open bids, then "run home" to their new sorority. Other schools like the University of Oklahoma deliver bids and t-shirts to PNMs' rooms so they can open privately before "running home" at a set time. Once at their new sorority's house or meeting spot, new members are welcomed with cheers and a party to reconnect with sisters met during recruitment and meet the full chapter. On Bid Day, most new members are jumping up and down and it’s important to be sensitive to PNMs who didn't receive their top choice bid or even a bid at all. That can feel devastating initially, but somehow new members usually end up where they belong, even if they don’t realize it right away.

Bid Matching: The procedure used by Panhellenic organizations during sorority formal recruitment to determine who receives which bids. After Preference Night, each potential new member (PNM) submits a prioritized list of sororities she would like to join. Each sorority also submits a ranked list of PNMs to whom they wish to extend a bid.

With the goal of maximizing the number of PNMs who receive their first choice, Panhellenic applies an algorithm to match PNMs to sororities based on the combination of those two lists. There is a maximum number of bids a sorority can extend, so PNMs who are lower on a sorority's list may not get their first choice bid.

That said, many members who didn't initially get their top pick ended up being grateful they joined their second or third choice sorority instead. While it may not seem like it at first, the algorithm often works in placing new members where they truly belong. Trust the process.

Big Sister (or Big or Biggie): An active sorority member chosen to mentor and advise a new member, usually about two weeks into their new member period. After another two-sided matching process, a chapter officer assigns Big Sisters to Little Sisters. A Big usually helps a new member acclimate to sorority life and often becomes a close friend for life. 

Big/Little Reveal: An event where a Little Sister discovers who her Big will be. In most chapters, Bigs know who their assigned Little is before the Little does. Over the course of a week or few days, Bigs anonymously leave small gifts for their Littles, and maybe some hints as to who they are. This culminates in an event (often themed) where Bigs are revealed to Littles, and there's lots of hugging and happy tears. We love watching Big/Little reveals on IG & TikTok!

Bumping: The process during a sorority recruitment event where one sorority member will join an ongoing conversation between another sister (also a recruiter) and a potential new member (PNM), allowing the initial sister to then excuse herself and move on to talk with another PNM. The goal of this is to have PNMs meet more than one member of the sorority at each round, and for few members of the sorority to meet each PNM. Chapters do a lot of prep and practice for bumping, so it doesn't seem awkward or abrupt and feels like a natural transition. They also plan which sister/recruiter will speak to each PNM at each round, so bumping keeps that on track.


A-B | C-E >>