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Princeton Dictionary: A-G


A.B., n. Though called “B.A.” at most other schools, it’s still your typical liberal arts degree.

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 juniors and seniors to provide guidance in writing junior papers and theses.

Akwaaba, n. 1. Twi for “Welcome.” 2. Princeton’s African student society.

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

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

alcohol ordinance, n. Eating club officers’ worst nightmare and persistent threat of the Borough Council. Would allow Borough cops to bust parties on Prospect Avenue. See “Street, the.”

Alexander Beach
, n. Princeton’s version of a beach. Lacks 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 alumnus whose architecture thesis had been flunked. Money talks. But don’t believe everything Orange Key guides tell you. See “Richardson Auditorium.”

Alito, Samuel ’72, n. Tenth Princetonian to serve on the Supreme Court but first since 1955. Brought the University’s eating club system and “conservative white boys” reputation into the national spotlight for several weeks in January 2006.

all-nighter, n. Grim dusk-to-dawn studying or writing marathon in which sleep is postponed indefinitely. Usually followed by prolonged periods of hibernation. See “ ’Wa,” “U-2.”

alumni, n. pl. Gosh, do they love the place. Always potential donors. Prone to wearing abominable combinations of orange and black. See “Reunions.”

Andlinger Center, n. Hub for the humanities made up of East Pyne, Chancellor Green, Joseph Henry House and Scheide Caldwell House.

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


Band, n. The University marching band. Odd looks but sometimes decent sound. Football half-time shows are occasionally funny and always tasteless. Often uses unconventional instruments, such as detergent bottles and stop signs.

basketball, n. 1. The traditional be-all and end-all of Princeton athletics. The eternal war with Penn — the Quakers or Tigers usually win the Ivy League — but Cornell took the title in 2008. 2. Formerly, the domain of famed head coach Pete Carril. See “Carril, Pete,” “Scott, Joe ’87,” “Johnson, Sydney ’97.”

Beast, n. What spews forth from taps on Prospect Avenue. Otherwise known as Milwaukee’s Best. Though it appears to be watered down, it does the trick.

beer, n. Beverage of choice on Prospect Avenue. Some clubs try to impress potential members by serving such brewhouse delicacies as Killian’s or Yeungling, but the hard-core drinkers keep it real with Beast. See “Prospect,” “Beast,” “boot.”

beer pong, n. Commonly and incorrectly called “Beirut” at other colleges. Game in which players use paddles to attempt to knock a ping-pong ball into a base-three triangle array of beer cups. Loser must chug the beer. Frequently played at Tower; rarely seen elsewhere. See “boot.”

Beirut, n. 1. A more popular variation of beer pong played without paddles. Beer-cup triangle is generally base four. Arc is critical. 2. Also, much less commonly, the capital of Lebanon. See “boot.”

Bent Spoon, The, n. Princeton’s preferred source of ice cream and other sweet things; supplies the best ice cream in the coolest array of flavors but also costs the most for the smallest servings.

Bernanke, Ben
, n. Second-most powerful man in the country. Longtime University economics professor who was named chairman of the Federal Reserve in 2006. Second Princetonian to chair the Fed in the last three decades.

Bicker, n. Princeton’s five-day equivalent of fraternity or sorority rush for five of the eating clubs. During Bicker, upperclass students meet sophomores and determine whether the sophs are worthy of membership in their eating club for the next two years. Now officially “dry,” meaning that supposedly no clubs are on tap, for the record. See “sign-in club.”

Big Three, The, n. Harvard, Yale and Princeton rivalry, gradually becoming less and less meaningful. Princeton’s Big Three football championships are celebrated with a bonfire on Cannon Green, most recently in November  2006 after a 12-year drought. See “bonfire,” “football.”

Black Student Union (BSU), n. Organization of black students on campus. Discusses issues related to minority student life and serves as a social hub.

Blair Tower, n. Former home of despised sophomores who lucked out during residential college room draw and got amazing rooms with amazing views. Now used as classrooms and housing for Resident Graduate Students. No more parties, at least for undergraduates.

Bloomberg Hall, n. 1. Architectural absurdity bordering Poe Field. 2. Formerly Ellipse Dormitory; renamed after Emma Bloomberg ’01 following a donation from her father, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Dorm for Butler College students. Closer to the parking lots than anything else.

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

bomb, v. To do miserably on an exam. See “Orgo.”

bonfire, n. Newly revived Princeton tradition of lighting an enormous bonfire on Cannon Green to celebrate the football team’s victory over both Harvard and Yale in a season. Last seen in November 2006 after being absent since 1994. See “Big Three, The,”  “football.”

boot, v. To toss one’s cookies, worship the porcelain god, barf, puke, vomit, ralph, regurgitate, spew chunks, whistle carrots, etc.

Bosworth, Kate ’05-’06-’07-’08-’09, n. First admitted as member of Class of 2005, shortly before starring in “Blue Crush.” Deferred matriculation each ensuing year, to the great disappointment of incoming males, until she was finally denied admission in 2006. Kate, if you are reading this, you can still give us a call…

Bradley, Bill ’65, n. Underachiever. Holds record for most points as a Princeton basketball player and led the Tigers to their only Final Four, in 1965. 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. One of Princeton’s yearbooks. 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 lectures. See “pre-med,” “tool shed,” “Wilson School,” “Whitman slaves.”

B.S.E., abbrev. Though called “B.S.” at some other schools, there’s no b.s. in Princeton’s engineering degree. See “E-Quad.”

Butler College, n. One of the six residential colleges, located down campus. Former home of the waffle ceiling. Mostly torn down in June 2007 and scheduled to reopen in 2009 as a four-year residential college.


Cafe Vivian, n. Formerly a coffee shop in Frist, now just a popular study space. Known as “Cafe Viv.” Set to reopen in fall 2008 offering organic foods and vegetarian and vegan options. See “Witherspoon’s.”

Cain, Dean ’88
, n. 1. Superman on the long-defunct ABC TV show “Lois & Clark.” 2. Former football star and college sweetheart of Brooke Shields ’87. Set Ivy League record with 12 interceptions in a season.

Campus Club, n. Eating club on the Street closest to campus, closed in fall 2005 after several consecutive years of declining membership numbers. Scheduled to reopen as a social venue and study space in September 2008. Think “Frist Campus Center in an eating club.”

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. Popular for the free T-shirts.

Cannon Club, n. 1. Notestein Hall, former home of the University’s writing center. 2. Defunct eating club, known for drunkenness and destruction like you wouldn’t believe. Legendary for its two tap rooms. Under renovation and supposedly returning in February 2009.

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, The,” “bonfire”). Site of “Go” games in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.”

Cap & Gown Club, n. Selective eating club popular with some breeds of athletes and very large male students. Food, generally fried, is served in correspondingly large portions. Club of Donald Rumsfeld ’54, Brooke Shields ’87 and Dean Cain ’88. Often referred to as “Cap.”

Carl A. Fields Center, n. Social and cultural center for minority students. Occupies building on Olden Street. Renamed from Third World Center. May soon move to former Elm Club, next to Tiger Inn.

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, after then-president Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, asked him for money for University construction. Wilson’s reported comment: “We asked for bread, and he gave us cake.”

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. See “thesis.”

Carril, Pete, n. Cigar-smoking, notoriously pessimistic men’s basketball coach who left in 1996 after 29 years. Known to local sportswriters as the best quote at the University. Literally tore the hair from 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. Was an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings until he retired in 2006.

celibacy, n. Unfortunate condition that many Princeton students suffer from — particularly male freshmen during Houseparties. See “Houseparties.”

Center for Jewish Life (CJL), n. Home for Jewish community activities and only kosher kitchen on campus. Rumors that food is better than in the dining halls are false. Location of Yavneh and Hillel events.

Chancellor Green
, n. 1. Chancellor Green Library, popular octagonal, wood-paneled study area. 2. Chancellor Green Cafe, up-campus source for food and beverages.

, n. Site of religious services and opening exercises at the start of every year. Third-largest university chapel in the world, but contrary to Orange Key legend, it wasn’t built by a Yalie.

Charter Club
, n. Eating club farthest down Prospect Avenue. Known for good food, unusually large clubhouse and proximity to the E-Quad. Has filled during sign-in for the past two years.

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

clapper, n. Part of the Nassau Hall bell that the incoming class tried to 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 the tower in 1992, 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 team or crew. Said members seem to prefer being wet at all times, judging from amount of beer thrown.

cluster, n. Where a whole bunch of computers congregate. Features an often-jammed printer. Scattered throughout campus. Busy when papers are due.

Colonial Club, n. Filled up with new members after another successful round of sign-ins this year. Nice pillars and lots of activities.

Community Action (CA), n. Week-long pre-orientation activity organized by the Student Volunteers Council. Like Outdoor Action but with showers.

, n. All-day festival on Nassau and Witherspoon streets held in April to promote town-gown unity. Features food, bands and student performances.

Con Interp, abbrev. POL 315: Constitutional Interpretation. The Orgo of pre-law students. Taught by politics professor Robbie George. See “George, Robert.”

Co-op, n. Upperclass dining alternative in which members share cooking responsibilities. Vegetarians, try 2 Dickinson; omnivores, stick to Brown.

Cottage Club, n. Selective eating club with the best-kept building and grounds. A mecca for sorority girls and baseball players. See “Fitzgerald, F. Scott ’17” “Frist, Bill ’74.”


Daily Princetonian, The, n. What you’re reading now. Your one true source of information on life, the universe and everything, as well as the only daily newspaper on campus. Available for free everywhere. An absolute good. A force for justice in an unjust and cruel world. Administrators cringe before its unquestioned power. See “ ‘Prince.’ ”

D-Bar, abbrev. Debasement Bar. Sole hang-out for graduate students, located in the basement of the Graduate College.

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. 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.

, abbrev. Dial Elm Cannon. Eating club triad that bowed out of the then-Prospect 12 several years ago. Hopes to revive past glory now that its graduate board has purchased Notestein Hall, the former home of Cannon Club, which was one-third of the DEC coalition. See “Cannon Club.”

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

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 College.”

Dillon Gym, n. Older of the two gyms on campus. Still the home of the volleyball team, karate, intramural athletics, wrestling and an occasional dance or large concert. Hosted basketball games when Bill Bradley ’65 ruled the NCAA. See “Bradley, Bill ’65.”

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

Duchovny, David ’82, n. Mulder on “The X-Files.” Has said publicly that he hated Princeton.


EEB, abbrev. Ecology and evolutionary biology department, not to be confused with molecular biology department. Experiments with squirrels, trees and anything that moves.

egress, means of, phrase. Fancy way of labeling campus doorways, used by fire inspectors to fine you for posters on your dorm door. See “fire inspection.”

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 — 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.

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

F, 1. n. Popularity contest, stalking tool and dating service all rolled into one convenient website. The ultimate procrastination tool. 2. v. The process of looking up that cutie you met at the Street last night. 3. n. A means by which to ridicule people you’ve never met.

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.

finals, n. End-of-term course examinations. The 10 days following reading period set aside for exam-taking. See “reading period.”

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

Firestone Library, n. 1. Nexus of Princeton’s library system. Contains 50 miles of books over six floors of open stacks. 2. Alternate housing for seniors. See “thesis,” “carrel.”

Fitzgerald, F. Scott ’17, n. Famed author of “The Great Gatsby.” His book “This Side of Paradise” is something every Princetonian skims but 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 of it while an undergraduate, you will not graduate. Of course, that’s just a legend. Try it — we dare you.

Fleming, John V. GS ’63
, n. Towering figure, both literally and figuratively. Professor of English and comparative literature who retired in 2006 after more than 40 years at the University. Wrote “Gladly Lerne, Gladly Teche,” a popular and occasionally controversial weekly column in the ‘Prince,’ for a decade.

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

, n. At Princeton, a parody of the game played at Michigan, Miami and USC. In 1998, the team christened the new Princeton University Stadium by losing half of its games. The team again hit a slump in 2007 after going 9-1 in 2006.

Forbes College
, n. Formerly Princeton Inn College, located on Alexander Road across from Wawa. Really far from classes. 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 presidential candidate who attempted a failed cyber-campaign in 2000. In fall 1999, pledged to withhold his big bucks from the University as long as bioethicist Peter Singer remained on the faculty.

Forrestal Campus, n. Where the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is located, off Route 1 north of Princeton. No one really knows what goes on there, but it has something to do with energy. See “Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.”

Frank, Sally ’80, n. Noted feminist who brought a lawsuit against several eating clubs for their all-male membership policies. Her decade-long legal crusade eventually forced Cottage, Ivy and Tiger Inn to go co-ed. Now a law professor at Drake University.

Franzia, n. Premier brand of boxed wine (read: dirt cheap and sickeningly sweet). Comes in both red and white. Goes down easy, comes back up more painfully. See “boot.”

frats, n. pl. 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 they may be your ticket into a bicker club. Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan is their arch-nemesis. See “Bicker.”

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

friend, n. 1. Someone who carries you back from the Street after a long night. 2. What you hope to make many of at Princeton. 3. Friend Center, the engineering library and classrooms. Named after a man named Friend who was, ironically, a friend of the man who financed the building.

Frist, n. 1. Frist Campus Center, central  campus hub including classrooms, study spaces, a bevy of eating options and other facilities. Most popular study space on campus, open 24 hours during midterms and finals. 2. Bill Frist ’74, former Senate majority leader whose family donated most of the funds for the campus center.

Fun Czar, n. Position created by Harvard to remedy the lack of fun to be had in Cambridge. No such position is necessary here, obviously.


Garden Theatre, n. Community theater, shows mostly artsy films as well as a few big-budget flicks.

Genomics, n. 1. Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, featuring the Carl Icahn Laboratory. 2. Genomics Cafe, yet another place to spend your dining points.

George, Robert, n. Conservative firebrand better known as Robbie George, though call him that to his face at your own peril. Leads the James Madison Program, which allows junior fellows — anyone can apply — to meet political and legal bigwigs like Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. See “Con Interp.”

God, n. 1. Deity. 2. Princeton’s most prominent alumnus (after Brooke Shields ’87). See “Dei Sub Numine Viget.”

grade deflation, n. Source of  controversy in 2004 when Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel proposed and pushed through a plan to limit A’s in courses to 35 percent of grades per department. So much for the “Gentleman’s A–.”

graduate student, n. An individual smart enough to translate Kierkegaard into 14 languages but mostly isolated from campus life since many are forced to live close to a mile from central campus. Often characterized as “sketchy.”

Guyot Hall
, n. Oft-mispronounced name of the geosciences building. We won’t tell you how to pronounce it, but it’s not what you think.