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Like all small, insular societies, students at Princeton University have a particular vocabulary and word choice that can prove to be a difficult dialect for some. Every year, we provide an updated dictionary for incoming freshmen so that they can more easily understand what the heck we mean when we say "bicker," "dead week" or the type of aggressive species most naturalists typically label as "squirrels." Read on, dear freshmen. Be prepared.


A.B., abbrev. Artium Baccalaureus, or Bachelor of Arts. Though called B.A. at most other schools, it’s still your typical liberal arts degree. For the same strange reason we have “certificates” instead of “minors,” you’re receiving an “A.B.” instead of a “B.A.” Unless you’re an engineer, of course. See “B.S.E.”

adviser, n. 1. Faculty member assigned to freshmen to assist in course selection. Usually a specialist in a field totally unrelated to yours. 2. Faculty member assigned to sophomores with an unclear role. 3. Faculty member assigned to juniors and seniors to provide guidance in writing junior papers and theses. All vary widely in quality of advice and level of engagement.

Ai Weiwei, n. A Chinese dissident artist who sculpted the zodiac statues currently in front of the Woody Woo Fountain. He tried to come to Princeton once, but the Chinese government held onto his passport. See “Woody Woo Fountain.”

Alcohol Initiative, n. An attempt to reduce alcohol consumption by throwing huge sums of money at undergraduates for alternative activities.

all-nighter, n. 1. Grim, dusk-to-dawn studying or writing marathon in which sleep is postponed indefinitely. Often procrastination-induced and caffeine-fueled. Usually followed by prolonged periods of hibernation. Your Freshman 15 will probably be 60 percent to blame on the food you eat during these. Welcome to college. 2. “All-Nighter with [insert show host name]” is Princeton’s student-made late-night comedy show created in 2012. Think SNL, except not every week. See “Quipfire!” , “Princeton Triangle Club.”

alumni, n. pl. Those who came before. Gosh, do they love the place. Prone to wearing abominable combinations of orange and black. See “Reunions.”

arch sing, n. Event where a Cappella singing groups perform their tunes in campus archways. Good singing and great acoustics, but the novelty can wear off quickly. A large percentage of the audience is made up of group members’ significant others (or wannabe significant others) and roommates.


Baker Rink, n. Ice rink located down-campus where the hockey teams practice. The Undergraduate Student Government sometimes holds free Skate Nights where you can take dates. Or friends. Or yourself. Also location for Intramural Broomball games.

Band, n. The University scramble band. Football halftime shows are occasionally funny and always embarrassing. Often uses unconventional instruments, such as plastic pumpkins and stop signs. Hard to miss in their extremely plaid orange blazers as they parade through libraries on Dean’s Date (God knows why) or serenade the hapless on Valentine’s Day. See “Charter Club.”

Beast, n. What spews forth from taps on Prospect Avenue. Otherwise known as Milwaukee’s Best. It does the trick.

Bedbug, n. Nasty vampiric insect which infiltrates unfortunate dorm rooms once every couple of years. If you get bad grades, just think: at least I don’t have bedbugs. Unless you do. In which case, stay away from us.

beer, n. Beverage of choice on Prospect Avenue. Some clubs try to impress potential members by serving such brew house delicacies as Killian’s or Yuengling, but eight times out of 10 it’s just Beast. See “Prospect,” “Beast.”

beer pong, n. A popular drinking game in which players attempt to toss a ping pong ball into an array of Solo cups. Does not usually involve paddles, because this isn’t Dartmouth.

Bent Spoon, The, n. One of five ice cream stores in the town of Princeton, located in Palmer Square. Also serves milkshakes and cupcakes. Known for exotic/unconventional flavors. Once featured in Buzzfeed’s “27 Ice Cream Shops You Need to Visit Before You Die.” #bucketlist

Bicker, n. Princeton’s multi-day equivalent of fraternity or sorority rush for the six selective eating clubs (Tower Club, Cannon Dial Elm Club, Tiger Inn, Ivy Club, Cottage Club and Cap & Gown Club). During Bicker, club members meet sophomores and other upperclassmen to determine whether they are worthy of membership. “Worthiness” is determined in ... a variety of ways. See “sign-in club,” “multi-club Bicker,” Street’s breakdown of the Street.

Blackboard, n. Website used to download course assignments, syllabi and readings. Not to be confused with “blackboards,” teaching instruments found in the majority of classrooms and lecture halls on which professors use an archaic substance known as “chalk.”

Blair Arch, n. That large, pretty arch across from Alexander Hall. Often found on Princeton postcards. Frequent site of a Cappella jams. See “arch sing.”

Boot, v. To worship the porcelain bowl. See "beast."

bonfire, n. Tradition of lighting an enormous bonfire on Cannon Green to celebrate the football team’s victories over both Harvard (sucks) and Yale (sucks) in a season. Recently held in 2012 and 2013. Involves singing praises to Old Nassau. Formerly included the burning of effigies of John Harvard and the Yale bulldog, the banning of which led to great campus outcry. Pretty much as cultish as it sounds. Keep your fingers crossed.

Breakout trips, n. A collection of civic engagement trips planned and led by students and funded by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. Participants are selected by application (and you thought your application days were over — you’re in for a rude awakening). Trips take place over fall and spring breaks. Past trips have examined arts in Philadelphia, school technology in Boston, immigration in Arizona and other social issues.

Bridges, n. nickname, CEE 102: Engineering in the Modern World. Counts as an HA for science kids and an STL for humanities kids. In past years, the final has involved literally memorizing pictures of bridges. See “P/D/F.”

B.S.E., abbrev. Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Though called “B.S.” at some other schools, there’s no b.s. in Princeton’s engineering degree.

Bubble, the, n. The metaphorical orange bubble that surrounds campus, keeping us in and the real world out. Also called “The Orange Bubble.” Usage: “Back in the Bubble!”, “Welcome to the Bubble.” To be used sparingly.

Business Today, n. Glossy campus business affairs magazine with large alumni coffers where Future Business Leaders of America gather to talk Goldman. See “i-banking,” “consulting.”

Butler College, n. Residential college with the newest buildings. Located far down-campus; contains Studio 34, which is open until 3:30 a.m. to satisfy all your midnight munchies. See “Studio 34,” “all-nighter.”


Cafe Vivian, n. Slightly pricier food spot located on the first floor of Frist Campus Center that serves flatbread pizzas, calzones, sandwiches and vegetarian options. Styled as a jazz joint. Popular spot for visitors, professors and students alike.

Cane Spree, n. Multi-sport competition between freshmen and sophomores held at the end of the second week of classes. Includes cane wrestling, tug-of-war, unscheduled brawls and a barbecue on Poe Field. Popular for the free T-shirts. Calm down — you’ll get a lot of free T-shirts during your time here.

Cannon Dial Elm Club, n. Bicker club known for its three taprooms. Recently resurrected, the club plays host to a large proportion of athletes. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

Cap & Gown Club, n. Cap has a reputation for hosting high proportions of the chill and diverse. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

Carl A. Fields Center, n. Officially the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, often called the Fields Center for short. A building located on Prospect Avenue that hosts diversity-themed events and programming.

Carnegie, Lake, n. Five minutes from campus, five miles long. Scenic venue for crew but too slimy for swimming. Gift of Andrew Carnegie so that Princeton could have a crew team, after then-University President Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, asked him for money for campus construction. Wilson’s reported comment: “We asked for bread, and he gave us cake.”

certificate, n. What we call minors. Options include finance, theatre, environmental studies, political economy, etc. Your certificate area of study must be addressed in some capacity in your thesis. Start planning for these now. See “thesis.”

Chapel, n. Site of religious services and opening exercises at the start of every year and on Baccalaureate Day. Third-largest university chapel in the world. There is allegedly a two-year wait list for weddings held here.

Chancellor Green, n. Gorgeous library attached to East Pyne featuring stained glass windows and amazingly comfortable couches. Its gothic skylight is among the most frequently Instagrammed spots on campus. Also popular for studying and napping.

Charter Club, n. Club with a weighted sign-in system located extremely far down Prospect Avenue, near the E-Quad. Plays host to a high proportion of engineers because they’re the only ones for whom it’s convenient. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

CJL, abbrev. Center for Jewish Life. Self-explanatory building on Washington Road. Popular lunch spot regardless of religious affiliation.

Cloister Inn, n. Sign-in club known for hosting a high percentage of water-based athletes. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

cluster, n. Where a whole bunch of computers congregate. Features printers which are often jammed, toner-less or otherwise malfunctioning, staplers that are often broken or empty, and angry students. Scattered throughout campus.

Colonial Club, n. Sign-in club that, along with Charter, is open on Friday nights. See Street’s guide to the Street.

Community Action, abbrev. CA. Week-long pre-orientation activity built around service trips in the Princeton, Trenton and Philadelphia area. Like Outdoor Action, but with bathrooms and community service.

Communiversity, n. All-day festival on Nassau and Witherspoon Streets held in April to promote town-gown unity. Features food, bands and student performances. When the festival ends, tensions between the University and town resume.

consulting, n. What many of your classmates will go on to do. See “Woody Woo.”

co-op, n. Upperclassman dining alternative in which members share cooking responsibilities. Vegetarians, try 2 Dickinson St.; omnivores, stick to the Brown, International Food or Mathey Real Food co-ops.

Cottage Club, n. Officially called “University Cottage Club.” Bicker club known to be populated by athletes, Southerners and wealthy Americans. See Street’s guide to the Street.

CPS, abbrev. Counseling and Psychological Services. Office of therapists located on the third floor of McCosh, available to you free of charge. See “McCosh.”

C-Store, n. Short for the creatively named Convenience Store, located on the first floor of Frist. Open until 2 a.m., when Frist closes. Source of late-night snacks for those who like to work in Frist. See “Frist.”


Daily Princetonian, The, n. What you’re reading now. Your number one (and only) daily source of campus happenings. The only daily newspaper at Princeton and one of the oldest college dailies in the country. Available for free in dining halls, eating clubs, various campus facilities and online. Operated completely independent of the University. Also known as the ‘Prince.’

D-Bar, abbrev. Debasement Bar. Mythical hangout for graduate students, located in the basement of the Graduate College. According to reports, highly awkward. See “Grad College,” “graduate student.”

Dead Week, n. Week between end of finals and graduation, when seniors and students employed for Reunions hang out and try to do as little as possible. This can often take the form of group vacations to the beach. See “Reunions.”

Dean’s Date, n. 1. The last day of reading period, when course papers are due. Stress reaches all-time high as students realize the number of pages they have left to write exceeds the number of hours before the deadline. 2. Dean’s Date Theater. Students congregate in McCosh Courtyard before the 5 p.m. deadline to cheer on classmates who have truly left their papers to the last minute, an activity that was more exciting in the days before email. Look out for your friends with merciless history, English or anthropology professors who demand hard copies. 3. Dean’s Date Fairies. Cross-dressing men from the Triangle Club who pass out candy on the night before Dean’s Date. See “Triangle Club,” “all-nighter.”

Dei Sub Numine Viget, phrase. Latin motto on Princeton’s seal. Translation: “Under God’s Power She Flourishes.” Unofficial version: “God Went to Princeton.”

Dillon Gymnasium, n. Recreational center in the middle of campus open to non-athletes. Contains a pool, squash courts, multipurpose rooms, a large basketball court and a fitness center. Site of intramural sports, loud Zumba classes and dance company rehearsals.

Dinky, n. Our version of the Hogwarts Express. Mini-train that takes you to Princeton Junction for connections to the real world. Flashpoint of battle between town and University. See “Arts & Transit Neighborhood.”

down-campus, adj. Located on the part of campus closer to the lake, down the hill. Begins roughly at Dillon, ends at the lake. Synonyms: “south.” Usage: “It’s a little farther down-campus than Edwards.”


E-Quad, abbrev. Engineering Quadrangle. A collection of academic buildings where engineers spend all their time. Very, very far east from central campus.

East Pyne, n. Pretty building up-campus near Firestone Library that houses language departments, the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of Classics. See “Chancellor Green.”

eating clubs, n. Eleven large mansions on Prospect Avenue that serve as the hub of upperclassman life. You probably weren’t allowed to ask questions about them on your tour. Biggest reason that Princeton is still considered elitist by the outside world. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

EC, abbrev. Epistemology and Cognition. Distribution requirement with no discernible meaning. Filled most frequently by philosophy and psychology classes. See “P/D/F.”

Eisgruber, Christopher, n. Your fearless leader. University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 ascended to the University presidency from the position of provost in 2013. Well-respected in academic circles. Destroyer of the grade deflation policy enacted by his predecessor. See “Tilghman, Shirley.”

EM, abbrev. Ethical Thought and Moral Values. Distributional requirement commonly filled with Peter Singer’s CHV 310: Practical Ethics, in which one of the most prominent philosophers of our time convinces you to stop eating meat.

Emails for Females, n. Problematic nickname for COS 109: Computers in Our World, a computer science class in which you learn little to no programming. However, it does satisfy the Quantitative Reasoning distribution requirement. See “P/D/F.”

entryway, n. Self-contained section of a dorm or classroom building. Most frequently found in older buildings, which were built to be riot-proof. Only way to get from one entry to another is to go outside and back in again or go through the basement or up to the top floor. Partly because of this system, you may never meet the person who lives on the other side of your bedroom wall.

e-reserves, n. Catalogues of off-centered scans of many required readings. Thank your professors when they offer these in place of Pequod packets. Bow down to professors who are able to photocopy readings with the right side up. Curse all professors as you wait for 300 pages of readings to print. See “Pequod.”


Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline, n.The University body responsible for investigating academic integrity and other disciplinary offenses.

fall break, n. Week-long vacation immediately following fall midterms. Implemented in the 1970s when campus activists demanded time off before Election Day to campaign for their favorite bleeding-heart liberal congressional candidates. Now a prime road trip week. See “Breakout trips.”

Fine Hall, n. The name of that extremely ugly brown building rising high above the earth. Down-campus behind Lewis Library. Houses the math department.

fire inspection, n. Twice-a-semester unannounced visit by fire safety patrollers to your dorm room, before which you should frantically hide illegal appliances under your bed to avoid fines.

Firestone Library, n. The mothership. Books on books on books (on shelves). Large behemoth of a library containing books on every subject imaginable, as well as asbestos. Popular study spot. Deathly quiet, except where it’s being renovated. See “carrel.”

FitzRandolph Gate, n. Gate in front of Nassau Hall. If you walk out the center gate as an undergraduate, you will not graduate. Of course, that’s just a legend. Try it and let us know. (But relax, the smaller side gates don’t count.)

Forbes College, n. Residential college, formerly known as Princeton Inn College. Two-year college, in which people bond over the gulf separating them from the rest of campus.

Frist, n. The campus center. Home of the student government, mailboxes and yummy quesadillas. A fun and relaxing place to socialize and study as long as you don’t take introductory Chinese. See “late meal.”

fraternities, n. pl. (Avert your eyes!) Groups of males who gather to drink and make lots of grunting noises. Freshmen are not allowed to rush Greek organizations. Those who do face suspension. Not a big presence on campus, but they may be your ticket into a Bicker club.

Frosh Week, n. The week before classes, when sophomores and upperclassmen reacquaint themselves with campus life and “meet” the freshmen, who are kept busy by an array of University-sponsored activities. Prime time to drink copious amounts of alcohol amid nighttime mosh pits in the eating clubs’ backyards. We’ll see you there.


Garden Theatre, Princeton, n. Community theater. Shows mostly artsy films as well as a few big-budget flicks. Good first date. Free USG-sponsored movies and popcorn for students on weekends.

Graduate College, the, n. Commonly called the “Grad College.” A mythical castle across the golf course behind Forbes rumored to be inhabited by those known as “graduate students.” Undergrads like to climb its tower to take pictures of the view and eat in its dining hall on Thursday nights, when dinner features specialty food stations with made-to-order sesame noodles, quesadillas, etc. See “D-Bar.”

grade deflation, n. University policy to limit A’s in courses to 35 percent of grades per department. Extremely controversial and a source of many a dining hall debate and Princeton’s unofficial motto, “It would’ve been an A at Harvard.” Struck down in 2014 by Eisgruber, to deafening cheers.

graduate student, n. An individual smart enough to translate Kierkegaard into 14 languages but is mostly isolated from campus life. Many are forced to live roughly one mile from central campus. Some will lead discussion at precepts. Typically only encountered at precepts, foreign language classes and the Wa on a weekend night. See “precept.”


head, n. Used to be the old title of Faculty member who acts as den mother or father for the freshmen and sophomores in the residential colleges.

Hoagie Haven, n. A Princeton institution. A small hoagie shop on Nassau Street that serves sandwiches filled with things like french fries, chicken tenders, multiple burger patties and buffalo sauce, often in combination. The most dangerous but most fulfilling of drunk-food destinations.

Holder Howl, n. A moment of collective campus catharsis at midnight each Dean’s Date when students gather in Holder Courtyard to release a primal scream of fear and frustration. See “Dean’s Date” and “Whitman Wail.”

Honor Code, n. Institution through which University exams are policed. Students sign pledges agreeing not to cheat on exams and to turn in those who do. Taken very seriously. See “Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline.”

hose, v. To render helpless and depressed. Most often done to rejected Bicker prospects, who are hosed at their doorstep. Fraternities and a cappella groups also hose. Note: a literal hose is typically not involved. See “Bicker.”

Houseparties, n. Pseudo-bacchanal scheduled for the weekend after the end of spring semester classes. With theses complete and exams two weeks distant, eating clubs host wine-filled formal and semiformal dinners. The only ones who have it bad are juniors finishing (starting) their junior papers and freshman males, who aren’t invited. Can be quite pricey. See “eating clubs.”


i-banking, nickname. Investment banking. What many of your classmates will go on to do. See “consulting.”

ICC, abbrev. Interclub Council. Group made up of the 11 eating club presidents. Coordinates relations between Prospect Avenue, the municipality and the University.

independent, adj. Adjective used to describe upperclass students who join neither an eating club nor a University dining facility. By graduation, independent students are either great connoisseurs of Princeton’s restaurants, great cooks or great mooches. Many live in Spelman Halls. See “Spelman Halls.”

Intersession, n. 1. Week off between fall finals and the start of spring semester. The only week of true freedom you will ever have at Princeton. 2. Jolt of fear for seniors who haven’t started their thesis research.

IRC, abbrev. International Relations Council. Umbrella group somehow related to Whig-Clio that organizes Model UN conferences. See “Tower Club,” “Woody Woo.”

Ivy Club, n. Bicker club with a reputation for elitism (even by Princeton standards) and mahogany. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.


Jadwin Gymnasium, n. Gym for varsity athletes located far, far down-campus. Site of varsity basketball games. Not to be confused with Jadwin Hall.

Jadwin Hall, n. An academic building south of Fine Hall that contains the physics department. Not to be confused with Jadwin Gymnasium, particularly during finals.

junior paper, n. Lengthy independent work for juniors meant to prepare them for the senior thesis. Also known as the least-advertised torture Princeton will put you through. Some departments require one; most require two. Often abbreviated as “JP.” Tragic reminder of impending mortality. See “thesis.”

junior slums, n. Upperclass dorms located up-campus near the U-store, generally populated by juniors and roaches. Don’t be fooled by the Gothic stone. Look out for that stain.


Keller Center, n. Center located near the E-quad that sponsors events, classes and programming related to entrepreneurship and innovation. Stop by before you drop out to work on your start-up full-time. Also operates a hub on Chalmers Street.


LA, abbrev. Literature and Arts, a category of your distributional requirements.

late meal, n. The only thing that makes upperclassmen jealous of freshmen. In theory, an option for students who miss dining hall meal times. In practice, free noms, mixers and the best food offered by Campus Dining. See “Frist.”

Lawnparties, n. Day-long drink-a-thon and dance-a-thon on the lawn of each eating club, held in early fall and at the end of spring Houseparties. Known for importing bands of questionable name recognition and creating a massive influx of sundresses on Prospect Avenue. Time of year to wear your preppiest clothing — pastels mandatory, floral print encouraged.

lectures, n. pl. Oft-missed speeches by professors that constitute the foundation of the Princeton education and a sizeable chunk of your tuition. Inconsistently eye-opening and life-changing. Consistently good for naps.

Lewis Center, n. New arts complex located on Alexander Road, near Forbes. Hasn't opened yet, so unknown how it is, but it has been promised that it will have lots of open space for study and performances.

Lewis Library, n. Large, modern science library located down-campus across Washington Road. New, nice and quiet. Despite its name, not many physical books are found here.

LGBT Center, the, n. Center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and allies. Provides safe space on the second floor of Frist. Sponsors events and programming throughout the year and provides resources for interested students. See “Frist.”

list, n. The sheet of paper you want your name to be on if you’re trying to get into an eating club that’s “on list” that night. This is sometimes accomplished by sending a half-pleading text to an upperclassman friend/acquaintance/person you exchanged names with once a couple months ago.

Lot 32, n. Parking lot located just outside of campus, far down Elm Road, where your upperclassmen friends’ cars are located.


Mathey College, n. Residential college located just south of Rocky. A collection of loosely associated buildings with no central quad. Shares a large, picturesque dining hall with Rocky.

McCosh Hall, n. A large, sprawling series of lecture halls up-campus in which many of your introductory-level large lecture classes will be held. Also features smaller seminar rooms mainly used by the English and history departments. Desks are small, cramped and wooden; bathrooms are difficult to find.

McCosh Health Center, n. Isabella McCosh Infirmary, located just south of Frist. You go here when you’re too drunk to go to your room but not drunk enough for the hospital. Areas of expertise: diagnosing mono and assuming all women are pregnant.

McCosh Walk, n. Walkway extending from University Place on the west to Washington Road on the east. If there weren’t hills, you’d be able to see clear from one end of campus to the other. Features many puddles. Stop by around 4:55 p.m. on Dean’s Date to watch your friends sprint.

Multi-club Bicker, n. Initiative begun in 2013 in which some of the Bicker clubs allowed sophomores to bicker two clubs at once. Entirely effective in making the already short Bicker process less stressful. See “Bicker.”

Murray Dodge Café, n. Home of free and freely flowing hot tea, milk/soy milk, and warm cookies freshly made by student bakers. Previously located in its namesake building’s basement, the most wondrous low-ceilinged and damp warm space on campus. The entire home building underwent a much-needed renovation, and has a gentrified vibe now.


Nassau Herald, n. Princeton yearbook containing only the senior photos.

Nassau Literary Review, The, n. Biannual litmag, the second oldest college litmag in the country. Yes. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote for it.

Nassau Street, n. The main road outside the FitzRandolph gates, where upperclassmen have to eat during frosh week. Not 'The Street.'

Nassau Weekly, n. Also “the Nass.” A weekly magazine-style newspaper. Known for humorous “Verbatim” section, which is filled with overheard quotes from around campus and for printing other perimetric 1,000-word-long student musings. See “WPRB,” “St. A’s.”

netID, n. The part of your email address preceding “” and your username for most campus websites.

New York City, n. Just an hour-and-a-half train ride away. A round-trip ticket is around $33. Sometimes art classes take you there for free.

Newman’s Day, n. To Paul Newman’s chagrin, students attribute to him the quote “24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.” Of course, Newman never said that, and there are 30 beers in a case, but that doesn’t stop some University students from attempting to drink 24 beers in 24 hours every April 24.

Nude Olympics, n. Sophomore rite of passage banned in 1999 as part of an effort to reduce drunken revelry. Celebrated by running naked through Holder Courtyard at midnight on the night of each year’s first snowfall.


OA, abbrev. Outdoor Action. Week-long pre-orientation program that sends half of the incoming freshman class into the woods to get dirty and make friends. There’s no action on Outdoor Action, but there’s always freshman week to get to know a new friend even better.

OA Dance, n. Dance party following your return and [shower] from Outdoor Action. Hilariously awkward. Your last high school dance. Has not occurred in recent years.

OBB, abbrev. Orange and Black Ball. Campus-wide ball resurrected two years ago after a decades-long absence. Lots of finger food. Similar to prom, except dates aren’t standard and slow songs are nonexistent.

ODUS, abbrev. Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. Oversees campus organizations, undergraduate student government and various student centers. A source of funding for your student group.

OIT, abbrev. Office of Information Technology. Controls the University’s computer and Internet systems. Runs a tech clinic in Frist.

Old Nassau, 1. phrase. Nickname for Princeton University, derived from Nassau Hall. 2. n. School song, the 'alma mater.'

Orange Key, n. Campus tour-guiding group. Don’t believe everything they told you on your tour.

Orgo, abbrev. CHM 303/304: Organic Chemistry. Soul-killer. Separates the kids from the doctors.


Pace Center, n. Civic engagement powerhouse on campus that encompasses Community House and the Student Volunteers Council. Sponsors Breakout trips during school breaks and distributes large amounts of money for service projects. See “Breakout trips.”

Palmer Square, n. Town square located just across Nassau Street from the University. Home to preppy stores, specialty boutiques and townies.

pass, n. Business card-sized piece of multicolored cardstock, often embossed with the logo of the eating club to which it will grant you entry. Often acquired from upperclassman friends/acquaintances/people you exchanged names with once a couple months ago. Passes bear an uncanny resemblance to “Chance” cards from “Monopoly.”

Patton, Susan, n. Self-proclaimed “Princeton Mom” who has made controversial comments about the college being the perfect time (for women) to find “the one” and about sexual assault being “regrettable sex” that should serve as a “learning experience.” Yup, her comments are as bad as you thought they were.

PAW, abbrev. Princeton Alumni Weekly. The nation’s fourth-oldest weekly magazine, published by the Alumni Association far less than weekly.

P/D/F, abbrev. pass/D/fail. Grading option developed to facilitate a true liberal arts education. Designed to allow students to take a class that expands their horizons with the guarantee that their GPA won’t tank. Unless you get a D. Or fail.

Pequod, n. 1. Fictional ship in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” 2. Outrageously overpriced photocopied packets of required reading that often resemble the whale.

Physics for Future Leaders, actual name of PHY115A. A physics course explicitly designed to introduce non-scientists to just enough science to ostensibly be able to make decisions. Future leaders who are also scientists should seek an actual education elsewhere. See “P/D/F.”

pickups, n. pl. Nights on which Princeton’s many, many selective clubs and organizations greet new members by showering them with champagne, Silly String, etc. in their dorm rooms and then taking them elsewhere for revelry. See “Bicker.”

Poe Field, n. Large oval field at the far southern end of campus where club and intramural sports teams hold practices, sunbathing frequently occurs and barbecues are sometimes held. See “Alexander Beach.”

power hour, n. Ritual in which a shot of beer is downed every minute for an hour. Use of hard alcohol not advised. See “boot.”

P-Rade, n. Annual procession of ridiculously spirited, multi-generational alumni sporting black-and-orange costumes. Takes place at the end of Reunions. See “alumni,” “Reunions.”

pre-med, n. A student hoping to go to medical school. Freshman population decreases by about half throughout school year. Generalized anxiety and cutthroat behavior varies per person. See “Woody Woo.”

precept, n. Fifty- or 80-minute weekly discussion between a small group of students and a preceptor (a grad student or faculty member) to supplement lectures. A unique feature of Princeton’s education system inaugurated by Woodrow Wilson. Vary widely in quality. Almost never truly mandatory.

prefrosh, n. What you are until you arrive on campus. See “frosh.”

pregame, 1. n. Name for any gathering held prior to a night out on the Street. Usually a source of hard liquor. Usage: “birthday pregame,” “frat pregame.” 2. v. To consume drinks at a party held on campus prior to a night out on the Street. Usage: “Let’s pregame at John’s birthday party before heading to T.I.”

preppy, 1. n. Person who attended St. Paul’s, Andover, Exeter, Lawrenceville, Groton, etc. Likely wears a lot of polos and is never seen without Sperry’s (in winter, with socks). 2. adj. Princeton is supposedly one of the 10 preppiest schools in the nation, but don’t be fooled: It’s in the top five. See “Lawnparties.”

Princeton, 1. n. The University to which you have committed the rest of your life (including your future earnings). 2. n. The affluent suburban town in which your blissful Orange Bubble is located.

Princetoween, n. The night on which all of campus collectively celebrates Halloween, irrespective of the actual date. Typically the Thursday before fall break.

Prospect, abbrev. 1. Prospect House. Formerly the University president’s home in the middle of campus. Now a faculty dining hall and the site of end-of-semester fancy dinners for various organizations. 2. Prospect Garden. The gardens surrounding Prospect House; popular venue for Houseparties photos and end-of -the-night makeout sessions on return from the Street. 3. Prospect Avenue. See Street’s guide to the Street.

Prospect 11, n. The ultimate drinking challenge: one beer at every eating club in one night. A favorite item on senior bucket lists. Called “Prospect 10” before Cannon reopened, and possibly once again if Quad goes bankrupt. See “Beast.”

prox, 1. n. Common name for PUID, or the Princeton University TigerCard. 2. v. To unlock a door by holding your PUID close to an electronic sensor. Humping the wall in the process is optional. Usage: “Could you prox me in?” 3. n. The Daily Princetonian’s blog. See “PUID.”

Public Safety, n. University cops responsible for regulating parking, ignoring room parties and opening doors for locked-out students. Called “P-Safe.” Despite years of effort by the police union, the officers don’t carry guns. However, they do occasionally drive you places.

PUID, 1. n. Your University ID. Your key to admission at the library, sporting events and eating clubs. Can be used to charge food purchases to your student account. Eating club members sport special stickers on theirs. See “prox.” 2. adj. When eating clubs only require that you flash your PUID to get in. Usage: “Is Campus Club PUID tonight?”


QR, abbrev. Quantitative Reasoning, a distributional requirement. See “Emails for Females.”

Quadrangle Club, n. Sign-in club commonly known as “Quad.” Endangered. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.


RCA, abbrev. Residential college adviser. An upperclass student who lives in your hall and provides free food (see “study break”), condoms and answers to questions like what to do when your roommate hasn’t showered in five weeks. See “Zee group.”

Rapelye, Janet, n. Dean of Admission. Let you in. Has revamped Princeton’s admission policies, including accepting the Common App, eliminating small group interviews and abolishing the “YES!” letter.

reading period, n. Week and a half to catch up on work at the end of each semester. Originally intended as time to do independent research, it is now a time to sleep in until 2 p.m. — and then frantically read everything you haven’t in the past semester and churn out papers. See “Dean’s Date.”

ReCal, n. App/website that helps you map out your schedule, along with the course planner on Tigerhub. One of the fledgling replacements for ICE, the Integrated Course Engine, a website for which all upperclassmen mourn. See “Tigerhub.”

Reunions, n. Beer-saturated gathering of alumni during the weekend before Commencement for drinking, fellowship and the P-Rade. Good excuse for students to delay returning home for a week at the end of the year. Reported to be the largest single beer order in the United States, after the Indy 500 went dry. See “P-Rade.”

Richardson Auditorium, n. Enormous performance hall located up-campus across from Blair Arch. Popular tourist photo op.

rival, n. What Princeton lacks. What Penn thinks we are.

Robo, n. Drinking game involving bouncing a quarter into a series of beer-filled cups. See “boot.”

Rockefeller College, n. Commonly referred to as “Rocky.” Northernmost residential college known for gorgeous Gothic architecture à la our Oxbridge predecessors. Entryway system. No air conditioning.

Rocks for Jocks, nickname. GEO 103: Natural Disasters. See: “P/D/F.”

RoMa, nickname. Rockefeller/Mathey College dining hall. Looks like the Great Hall in Harry Potter; both were modeled after Oxford.

room draw, n. Computerized process by which students select rooms for the upcoming year. Draw times are randomly assigned. Start making alliances for whom you want to room with next year, now.

room improvement, phrase. Purgatory into which students with tragically late draw times are cast. Over the summer, those who are eligible for room improvement will theoretically be placed into better rooms. Theoretically. See “room draw.”

Route 1, n. A large, divided road about a five-minute drive from campus along which real-world institutions like movie theaters, malls, Walmarts, discount liquor stores and chain restaurants can be found. Proof that you are, in fact, in New Jersey.

rush, 1. v. To move very quickly toward something. 2. n. An aquatic plant. 3. n. A process you are forbidden to know anything about until next September. Shhh.

rush ban, n. A ban on freshman rush enacted two years ago that prohibits you from engaging in any fraternity or sorority activities for your first year. See “Tilghman, Shirley.”


safety school, 1. n. Yale, Harvard, Penn, etc. 2. phrase. Popular chant at basketball games regardless of opponent.

sexile, v. To render your roommate homeless after a successful date or night out. Etiquette in case of sexile should be discussed with your roommate ASAP.

shared meal plan, n. A system by which one can be a member of both an eating club and a residential college, with meals split between the two. Also known as the dream. The number of slots available varies widely by club.

sign-in club, n. Eating club that takes members through a lottery system rather than Bicker. Generally do not use passes or lists and are therefore more freshmen-friendly. Charter is the only club with a weighted sign-in based on a student’s attendance of club events. See Street’s guide to the Street.

squirrel, n. A furry friend, an occasional foe. Cute when scurrying around campus. Pesky when scavenging in your dorm room. Scary when rabid. Not scared of people. But always escape when you want to get a photo. Come in brown, gray and black varieties.

sororities, n. pl. Groups of women who gather together to take pictures in dresses and “network.” There are only three at this school: Kappa Kappa Gamma (“Kappa”), Pi Beta Phi (“Pi Phi”) and Kappa Alpha Theta (“Theta”). Freshmen are not allowed to rush Greek organizations. May be your ticket into a Bicker club and/or a way for people to instantly stereotype you.

Spelman Halls, n. Modern residential buildings near Whitman largely consisting of apartment-style dorms with a kitchen, a common room and four singles. Designed by the architect who built the Louvre pyramid. Home to students who must cook for themselves, buy ready-made meals, scavenge, or starve. Increasingly in demand in recent years. See “independent.”

Stars for Stoners, nickname. AST 205: Planets of the Universe. Purported to actually be a somewhat difficult class involving actual equations. See “P/D/F.”

STL, abbrev. Science and Technology with Lab, a self-explanatory distributional requirement. See “Bridges.”

STN, abbrev. Science and Technology, Nonlaboratory, a self-explanatory distributional requirement. See “Physics for Future Leaders.”

St. A’s, n. “Secret” literary society with unclear purpose and unknown meaning. See “Ivy Club,” “the Nass.”

Street, the, nickname. Prospect Avenue, home of the eating clubs and center of University nightlife. See Street’s guide to the Street.

Studio 34, n. Late-night convenience store open until 3:30 a.m. in the basement of Butler College. Known for its French bread pizzas. Favorite post-Street binge-eating hangout for those who live down-campus.

study break, n. Free food. See “RCA.”


Terrace Club, n. Sign-in club known for artsy types, vegans and hipsters. Popular end-of-night stop for all of campus. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

T.I., abbrev. Tiger Inn. Bicker club known for raucous, beer-soaked parties and heavy preponderance of bros. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

Tiger Admirers, n. Facebook account to which lonely Princetonians can anonymously submit messages of heartbreak and desire that are then posted publicly so others can commiserate.

Tigerhub, n. Website where you register for classes, map out your schedule and view your campus job paycheck. Useful, but some of us older folk miss its predecessors, SCORE and ICE. See “ReCal.”

thesis, n. The T word. Major senior pastime, required of every A.B. student and some B.S.E. students. Most are close to 100 pages. Often replaces socialization, exercise, happiness, etc. in the spring.

third-floor Bicker, n. The practice of exchanging sexual favors for admission into a Bicker club. Named for the club officers’ third-floor bedrooms in which such encounters usually occur.

Tiger, n. 1. Princeton student or alum. 2. Princeton athlete. 3. Mascot dressed in tiger-skin suit who capers and cavorts at football games while trying to avoid attacks by the opponent’s band. 4. Campus humor magazine of erratic quality and publication schedule. 5. Striped predatory jungle cat.

Tilghman, Shirley, n. Princeton’s 19th president. First woman and first scientist to hold the presidency. Friend of the sciences, enemy of the Greeks. See “rush ban.”

Tower Club, Princeton, n. Bicker club known for freshman-friendly dance floor and taproom, as well as prevalence of theater types, a cappella group members and Woody Woo majors. See Street’s breakdown of the Street.

Triangle Club, n. Undergraduate musical theater group that writes and stages an annual extravaganza of song, slapstick and dance. Famous for the drag kickline and the Honor Code song.

21 Club, n. Secret drinking organization founded in 1881, composed of 42 male juniors and seniors who consume 21 beers in 42 minutes at an annual contest. Members are culled from Bicker clubs, fraternities and sports teams. See “T.I.”


UMCPP, abbrev. University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. Still known by its former abbreviation, PMC, because “getting PMCed” after a night of drinking sounds better than “getting UMCPPed.” See “McCosh Health Center,” “boot.”

up-campus, adj. Located on the part of campus closer to Nassau Street, up the hill. Synonym: “north.” Usage: “From here, go up-campus to find Brown.”

U-Store, n. Officially, the Princeton University Store. Located at 36 University Place, across from Blair Arch. Sells food, dorm items and school supplies, and favorite watering hole for bleary-eyed up-campus residents in the throes of late-night cravings. Open until 4 a.m. during the school year.

USG, abbrev. Undergraduate Student Government. Plans Lawnparties. Otherwise, of questionable impact. Current president is Myesha Jemison '18. 


Wa, the, n. Campus colloquialism for the Wawa convenience store. Located between the Dinky and Forbes. Popular food haunt during all-nighters and after nights out, especially for Forbesians.

Whig-Clio, abbrev. The American Whig-Cliosophic Society. Centuries-old debate society that hosts such topical events as the Annual Latke versus Hamantaschen Debate.

Whitman College, n. Residential college that bears a striking resemblance to the castle in Shrek. Built in 2007 and rumored to have more money than every other college.

Whitman Wail, n. A bout of anguished screaming by all of Whitman College that happens at midnight of Dean’s Date, following the tradition of the Holder Howl. A pun on the Whitman Whale, the young college’s blue mascot. See “Holder Howl.”

Wilson College, n. Centrally located residential college named after Woodrow Wilson. An incoherent assortment of buildings that vary in quality. Contains a volleyball court.

Wilson, Woodrow, n. Class of 1879, President of the University 1902-10, 28th President of the United States. He kept us out of war, until he didn’t. Has an inordinate number of buildings and programming named for him. Your new bespectacled 20th century hero.

Women’s Center, the, n. Center for women’s issues. Provides an often-quiet study space on the second floor of Frist. Sponsors events and programming for interested students.

Woody Woo, nickname. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, or the Wilson School. Formerly selective major for students interested in becoming bankers or consultants and learning the language of bureaucracy, as well as those rare folk who actually do want to save the world through government (but will probably end up in banking or consulting).

Woody Woo fountain, n. Idyllic fountain and pool located in Scudder Plaza, north of Robertson Hall. Popular wading spot in the spring, especially after Wilson School theses are submitted.

WPRB, n. Student-run, community-supported independent radio station located in the basement of Bloomberg Hall. Owns the Nass. See “Terrace Club.”

Writing Center, n. One-stop shop for all the paper-writing advice you’ll ever need. You can make appointments at

Yik Yak. n. Location-based social media app that shut down in April 2017. It is a reminder of memes gone by and falls from greatness. 


’Zee group, abbrev. Group of advisees. The 20 or so freshmen frequently found under the wing of a residential college adviser. May or may not become close friends over the course of freshman year. Statistically, at least one permutation within the group will hook up.

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