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A Princeton Dictionary (A-G)


A.B., n. Though called "B.A." at most other schools it's still your typical liberal arts degree.


Abel Bagel, n. Bagelry on Witherspoon Street with hearty fare. Owner Alfie Kahn is looking to sell the establishment — could be a good business venture for an enterprising freshman with a little extra cash.

Acción Puertorriquena, n. Puerto Rican student group formed in 1973.

adviser, n. 1. Faculty member assigned to freshmen to assist in course selections. Usually a specialist in a field totally unrelated to yours. 2. Faculty member assigned to juniors and seniors to provide guidance in writing theses and junior papers. Yeah, right.

Alchemist and Barrister, n. Local restaurant known for fine cuisine and prices exorbitant by student standards. Located on Witherspoon Street.

alcohol initiative, n. A trustee-sponsored attempt to reduce alcohol consumption by throwing exorbitant sums of money at undergraduates for alternative activities — and stiffening penalties for alcohol violations.

Alexander Beach, n. Princeton's version of a beach. Lacks the sand and water but is filled with lots of bodies on sunny days. Only place on campus where people wear less than on the 'Street.'


Alexander Hall, n. Perhaps the strangest building you will ever see. Legend has it that the building's design was submitted by a wealthy alum whose architecture thesis had been flunked. Money talks. But don't believe everything Orange Key tells you. See "Richardson Auditorium."

all-nighter, n. Grim dusk-to-dawn studying or writing marathon when sleep is postponed indefinitely. Usually followed by prolonged periods of hibernation. See "Wa."

alumni, n. pl. Gosh do they love the old school. Always potential donors. Prone to wearing abominable combinations of orange and black. Prevalent around Reunions time. See "Reunions."

Annex, n. Local restaurant, popular among nostalgic alumni and graduate students as an off-campus watering hole. The food is greasy but inexpensive. Popular weekday hangout for post-thesis seniors and professors. Two forms of ID required.

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arch sing, n. Event where the a cappella singing groups perform a few of their favorite tunes in (where else?) archways. Good singing, great acoustics, but the novelty quickly wears off.


Band, n. The University marching band. Odd look but decent sound. Football halftime shows are occasionally funny and always tasteless. They often use odd instruments, such as detergent bottles and stop signs. Prone to marching around campus in early morning hours, waking up their hungover classmates.

basketball, n. 1. The traditional be-all and end-all of Princeton athletics. Currently Men's Ivy League champions, as they were from 1996-1998. Lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to North Carolina. 2. Formerly, the domain of famed head coach Pete Carril. See "Carril, Pete."

Beast, n. What spews forth from taps on Prospect Ave. Though appears to be watered-down, it does the trick. Otherwise known as Milwaukee's Best. Freshman girls, you grow to like it.

beer, n. Beverage of choice at Prospect Avenue. Some clubs try to impress potential members by serving such brewhouse delicacies as Killian's or Yeungling, but the hardcore drinkers keep it real with the Beast. See "Prospect."

beer goggles, n. What happens when you've had too much to drink and everyone in the room starts looking really good.

beer pong, n. Popular party game in which players attempt to knock a ping-pong ball into a cup of beer. Loser must chug the beer. See "boot."

Beirut, n. A variation of beer pong played without paddles. Named after the capital of Lebanon.

Bicker, n. Princeton's five-day equivalent of fraternity rush for five of the eating clubs. During Bicker, upperclass students interview sophomores and determine whether the sophs are worthy of associating in the same eating club for the next two years. Now officially "dry," meaning that supposedly no clubs are on tap, for the record.

Big Three, The, n. Harvard, Yale and Princeton rivalry, becoming more and more meaningless. Princeton championships in football are celebrated with a bonfire on Cannon Green, but the Tigers haven't won it since 1994.

Blair Tower, n. Former home of despised sophomores who lucked out during residential college room draw and got amazing rooms and amazing views. Now the administration use the Tower for classrooms and residences for assistant masters. No more parties, at least for undergraduates.

blow off, v. To desert one's responsibility completely, e.g. "I'm blowing off my 9 a.m. lecture."

bomb, v. To do miserably on an exam. Common for Orgo students. See "Orgo."

boot, v.t. To toss one's cookies, worship the porcelain god, barf, vomit, regurgitate, reverse peristaltic reaction, whistle carrots, etc. Get it?

Bradley, Bill '65, n. Underachiever. Holds record for most points and rebounds as a Princeton basketball player. Attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and then went on to star for the New York Knicks. Served 18 years as U.S. senator from New Jersey and made a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000.

Bric-a-Brac, n. Princeton yearbook. See "Nassau Herald."

brown-noser, n. 1. Polite euphemism for earthier terms. Student who goes out of his way to get acquainted with the professor by regularly attending office hours and approaching professors after lecture. See "premed," "pre-law," "tool shed" and "Wilson School."

Burger King, n. Home of the Whopper. The only fast food chain with a franchise on Nassau Street. Offers a generous 20-percent student discount if you're lucky enough to remember. See "townies."

Butler College, n. One of five residential colleges, located down campus. Home of the waffle ceiling. Ugly atmosphere breeds camaraderie in Butler Quad.


Cain, Dean '88, n. 1. Superman on that now-defunct ABC TV show. 2. Former football star and college sweetheart of Brooke Shields '87. Set Ivy League record for interceptions in a season.

Campus Club, n. First eating club on the 'Street' featuring an odd mix of Band members and English majors. Terrace Lite. Was suffering from low membership.

Cane Spree, n. Multi-sport competition held at end of second week of classes between freshmen and sophomores. Includes cane wrestling — which resulted in a concussion three years ago — tug-of-war, unscheduled brawls and barbecue. Traditionally won by the freshmen, though victory is always claimed by sophomores. Winners get class t-shirts of losers.

Cannon Club, n. 1. Notestein Hall, home of the Office for Population Research. Often empty. 2. Defunct eating club, known for drunkenness and destruction like you wouldn't believe. Alumni will resurrect the legendary facility, which would likely feature two tap rooms, by Bicker 2003.

Cannon Green, n. Grass plot behind Nassau Hall with cannon half-buried in center. Bonfires are held here when Princeton wins the Big Three championship. See "Big Three." Oddly placed chains bordering the green often deter mystified students who think they are not permitted to walk on the lawn.

Cap and Gown Club, n. Selective eating club popular with some breeds of athletes and very large male students. Club of Brooke Shields '87 and Dean Cain '88.

Carmody, Bill, n. Men's basketball coach who had the difficult task of replacing Pete Carril. In his four years as head coach, the team has had two league championships. Gets very upset on the bench — and behind it, and in front of it. Moved to Northwestern last August.

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

carrel, n. 5-by-5-by-5-foot study closet in Firestone Library doled out to most seniors and grad students. Seniors lock themselves in around February, emerging in April with a 30,000-word thesis.

Carril, Pete, n. Cigar-smoking, notoriously pessimistic men's basketball coach who retired in 1996 after 29 years. Known to local sportswriters as the best quote in the University. Literally tore the hair out of his head. Made history in his final season by leading the Tigers to an upset over defending champion UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

celibacy, n. Unfortunate condition in which many Princeton students find themselves — especially male freshmen during Houseparties. see "Houseparties."

Center for Jewish Life (CJL), n. Home for Jewish community activities. Bigger than many clubs, and better food than DDS. Location of Yavneh and Hillel events. Also houses kosher kitchen. See "DDS."

Chapel, n. Site of all sorts of religious services, we think. Currently surrounded by scaffolding.

Charter Club, n. Eating club farthest down Prospect Avenue. Known for Scotchtoberfest and proximity to E-Quad. Flush with members after a successful sign-in period this year, now seems to be on tap seven days a week.

Chicano Caucus, n. Organization of Chicano students intended to promote a sense of unity.

Chuck's Spring Street Cafe, n. Local dining establishment known for its spicy Buffalo wings and former owner Lyle Menendez '92.

CIT, abbrev. Computing and Information Technology. They control the University's computer systems and make life extremely complicated for the more computer illiterate among us. Far from campus, perhaps intentionally.

clapper, n. The part of the Nassau Hall bell the incoming class must steal each year. The logic behind the age-old tradition is that if the clapper is stolen, the bell signifying the start of classes won't ring, so classes can't be held. After Geoffrey Macarthur '95 fell from tower four years ago, however, the administration decided to remove the clapper permanently.

Cloister Inn, n. Eating club far down Prospect Avenue. Has hot tub, perhaps because many members are on the swim or crew teams.

cluster, n. Where a whole bunch of computers congregate. Several located throughout campus.

Colonial Club, n. Brought back from the brink of extinction by successful sign-ins last year. Nice pillars and lots of activities.

Communiversity, n. All-day street festival on Nassau and Wither-spoon streets held in April to promote town-gown unity. Features food booths and outdoor bands.

Con Interp, abbrev. POL 315: Constitutional Interpretation. The Orgo of pre-law students. See "Orgo."

Coop, n. Upperclass dining alternative. Vegetarian — 2-Dickinson; Carnivores — Brown.

Cottage Club, n. Selective eating club with the best-kept building and grounds. A mecca for girls in black pants and baseball players. F. Scott Fitzgerald '17 library upstairs.


Daily Princetonian, The, n. Your one true source of wisdom, knowledge and divine inspiration, as well as the only daily newspaper on campus. An absolute good. A force for justice in an unjust and cruel world. Administrators cringe before its unquestioned power. The second-oldest college daily in the country. See " 'Prince.' "

D-Bar, abbrev. Debasement Bar. Sole hangout for graduate students. Center of controversy two years ago when the University tried to limit access.

Dean's Date, n. The last day of reading period, when all course papers are due. Stress reaches all-time high as students realize the number of pages left to write exceeds the number of hours before 5 p.m. If you can't get papers in on time, you have to see a dean.

DDS, abbrev. 1. Department of Dining Services, formerly known as DFS and PUDS. 2. College food, enough said. See "Orefice, Stu."

DEC, abbrev. Defunct eating club housed in Elm building that bowed out of the Prospect 12 two years ago. May relive past glory now that its graduate board has purchased Notestein Hall, the former Cannon Club that was one-third of the DEC coalition.

Dei Sub Numine Viget, n. Latin motto on Princeton's seal. Translation: "Under God's Will She Flourishes." Unofficial version: "God Went to Princeton."

Dickerson, Janet, n. Former Duke vice president for student affairs. Joined University administration fall of 1999 as vice president for campus life. Community builder.

Die for the Inn, phrase. Popular in the days of Princeton Inn College to show the solidarity of that college's residents. After Malcolm Forbes '41 made a donation, forcing a name change, the phrase fell into disuse. "Die for Steve Forbes" didn't quite have the same ring. See "Forbes."

Dillon, n. Old gym, used less since Jadwin was built. Still the home of the volleyball team, karate, intramural athletics and an occasional dance or large concert. Hosted basketball games when Bill Bradley '65 roamed the NCAA.

Dinky, n. Mini-train that takes you to Princeton Junction for connections to the real world. If you climb on top, you get hurt really, really badly. See "Miller, B.J. '94."

Domino's Pizza, n. Late-night study food. Tastes better as evening progresses.

Duchovny, David '82, n. Star of Fox's "The X-Files." Has stated publically that he hated Princeton. No alumnus connection there.


EEB, abbrev. Ecology and evolutionary biology department, not to be confused with molecular biology department. Hardcore molecular biology majors refer to their sister department as "EEBS." Experiments with squirrels, trees and anything that moves.

email, n. Major form of communication on campus. Advanced form of courtship for the socially uninclined.

entryway, n. Self-contained section of a dorm or classroom building. Only way to get from one entry to another is to go outside and back in again. Partly because of this system, you may never meet someone who lives on the other side of your bedroom wall.

E-Quad, abbrev. Engineering Quadrangle, located on Olden Street, several light years from campus. Engineers-to-be emerge only once a month for a nap and a shower.

F facebook, n. The Freshman Herald, indispensible reference with photos of every freshman — except those who didn't send in a photo and have a tiger instead. Makes good reading on a lonely Saturday night.

Fall Break, n. Week off in the fall right after 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.

finals, n. Term examinations in courses. Three weeks are set aside (the months of January and May) at the end of fall and spring terms for study, exam-taking and the completion of numerous pointless writing assignments.

Firestone Library, n. 1. Cornerpiece of Princeton's library system. Contains 50 miles of books, open stack. 2. Alternate housing for seniors.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott '17, n. Famed author who wrote "The Great Gatsby." His book, "This Side of Paradise," is something every Princetonian skims and few read. Fitzgerald was a member of Cottage Club, and there is reportedly a spot in the club where he once booted. That he never graduated from Princeton and still became rich and famous should be some consolation to undergraduates. See "flunk out."

FitzRandolph Gate, n. Gate in front of Nassau Hall. If you walk out it while an undergraduate, you will not graduate. Of course, that's just a legend. Try it — we dare you.

flunk out, v. To leave, go bye-bye, be forced to withdraw, fail two or three courses in one semester. See "Orgo," "flunk out."

football, n. At Princeton, a popular, profitable parody of the game played at Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State. Three years ago the team christened the new Princeton University Stadium by losing many games.

Forbes College, n. Formerly Princeton Inn College, located on Alexander Road across from the Wa. The name change occurred when Malcolm Forbes '41 donated a few million dollars in honor of his son.

Forbes, Steve '70, n. Son of mogul Malcolm and masochistic presidential candidate who attempted a cyber-campaign in 2000 and failed. Pledged fall of 1999 to withhold his big bucks from the University as long as bioethicist Peter Singer remains on the faculty.

Forrestal Campus, n. Where the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is located. No one really knows what goes on there, but it has something to do with energy or something.

Frank, Sally '80, n. Noted feminist who brought a lawsuit against the all-male membership policies of several eating clubs. Her decade-long legal crusade caused Cottage, Ivy and Tiger Inn to go coed. Now a law professor at Drake University.

frats, Groups of males that gather to drink and make lots of grunting noises. To join in the fun, you must pledge. If selected, you spend much of your first year running errands for your brothers. Not a big presence on campus, but popular among some athletic teams. May be your ticket to Bicker clubs.

Freshman Week, n. The week before classes when sophomores and upperclass students reacquaint themselves with campus life and "meet" the freshmen. Also the week when freshmen are kept busy by an annoying array of University-sponsored activities. Also called "frosh week."

Frist Campus Center, n. 1. A long-due edifice, it opened last fall. Administrators promote it as the center of campus life for the next millennium. It houses classrooms, a bevy of eating options and the much-maligned "beverage laboratory," where kids were going to be able to charge beers home to Mom and Dad. Most popular study space on campus. Most of the funds donated by the family of Sen. William Frist '74 (R-Tenn.).


Garden Theater, n. Recently renovated, newly reopened community theater. Known for showing the same movie for several months straight.

God, n. 1. Deity. 2. Princeton's most prominent alumnus (after Brooke). See "Dei Sub Numine Viget."

grade inflation, n. Process by which a "gentleman's C" becomes a B-. Widespread at all Ivy League institutions, notably in the Harvard economics department. Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel crusades against it.

graduate student, n. An individual smart enough to translate Kierkegaard into 14 languages but not smart enough to tie his or her own shoelaces. Often unsocialized.

gut, n. A course in which one expects to do little or no work for a good grade. As soon as a gut course builds up a huge enrollment, the administration makes it more difficult.

Guyot Hall, n. Oft-mispronounced name for the EEB and geology building. We won't tell you how to pronounce it, but it's not "Guy-ot."