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A Princeton Dictionary (A-G)

The following is a haphazard collection of Princeton buzzwords that may or may not make up your entire vocabulary by the time midterms roll around. Impress your mom and dad by talking cool.

Some of the terms are unique to Princeton, some are universal, some are entertaining and some are, quite frankly, stupid. Enjoy.


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.' See " '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. 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. 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.


bag, v.t. To blow 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. Men's Ivy League champions from 1996-1998. Missed the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row after two disappointing losses to Penn. 2. Formerly, the domain of famed head coach Pete Carril. See "Carril, Pete." beer, n. Mild hallucinogenic drug. Beverage of choice at Prospect Avenue. Some clubs try to impress potential members by serving such brewhouse delicacies as Killian's or Yuengling, 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 all members of the opposite sex start looking 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. 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 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 because of amazing rooms and amazing views. Now the administration will be using 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 parastaltic 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 nomination in 2000. Bric-a-Brac, n. Princeton yearbook. See "Nassau Herald." 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. Ailing eating club featuring an odd mix of Ultimate players, Band members and English majors. Terrace Lite. Currently 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 two 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. In recent months, alumni have talked of resurrecting the legendary facility, which would likely feature two tap rooms. 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 right-wing Christians. 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. 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. 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. Chesapeake, n. Despite location down Nassau Street, it gives Abel Bagel a run for its money. Great bagelwiches. 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. Cloister Inn, n. Eating club far down Prospect Avenue. Went from way, way too few members to way, way too many in two short years. Has hot tub, perhaps because many members are on the swim or crew teams. cluster, n. Where a whole bunch of computers congregate. Located throughout campus. Colonial Club, n. Brought back from the brink of extinction by successful sign-ins this year. Nice pillars. Communiversity, n. All-day street festival on Nassau and Witherspoon 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 southern belles and football 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 last year 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. 1. Defunct eating club housed in Elm building that bowed out of the Prospect 12 two years ago. May relive past glory if its graduate board purchases Notestein Hall, the former Cannon Club that formed 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. Joining University administration this fall 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. Housed basketball games when Bill Bradley '65 roamed the NCAA. Dinky, n. Mini-train that takes you to Princeton Junction for train connections to the real world. If you climb on top, you get hurt really, really badly. See "Miller, B.J. '94." Dod Hall, n. Building in the center of campus where you pick up the care package the folks sent you last month. Domino's Pizza, n. Late-night study food. Tastes better as evening progresses. Duchovny, David '82, n. Star of Fox's "The X-Files." Recently sat for an exclusive interview with the 'Prince,' but refused to leak plotlines for the upcoming season.


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.


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. 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 scans 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." football, n. At Princeton, a popular, profitable parody of the game played at Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State. Two 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 five years ago 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 last fall 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. Frist Campus Center, n. 1. A long-due edifice administrators promote as the center of campus life for the next millennium. When it opens this fall, the center will house classrooms, a bevy of eating options and the much-maligned "beverage laboratory," where kids will be able to charge beers home to Mom and Dad. Most of the funds donated by Sen. Bill Frist '74, R-Tenn.


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. See "Ramakrishnan." 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."