Your First Prerequisite of Dartmouth: The ABCs
There’s a lot of Dartmouth lingo — here’s an alphabetized list to get you started.
This article is featured in the 2022 Freshman special issue.
Do you remember learning the alphabet as a child? It was the fundamental building block to your comprehension and communication. Now, as you enter Dartmouth, it might feel like you’ll need to learn a new sort of alphabet: Dartmouth lingo, letter by letter.
Here is a quick and easy guide to Dartmouth’s vernacular that might ease your transition. But don’t fret if you don’t remember it all right away — save that stress for ECON 1. It will come to you more quickly than you’d think, and if you’re ever confused, any student would be happy to explain. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself having to explain the lingo you’re using to non-Dartmouth students upon returning home for winterim: Dartmouth’s term for winter break, or the interim period between fall and winter term.
A: @now is another way of saying “right now.” Whether Foco has your favorite vegan nuggets or your study group needs to meet, when you see @now, you better get on your way.
B: Baker-Berry Library, the main library on campus, boasts its own set of lingo, and it’s essential to navigating the library and finding your favorite study spot.
Blobby refers to the lobby of Baker-Berry Library, and it’s a great place to study with a group or when you’re feeling more social than studious. Be warned, though: too much time in Blobby may make you facetimey, meaning you like to see and be seen — to be facetimey is to position yourself in social areas to be seen and talked to by others.
FFB refers to the first floor of Berry, and is another place to be chatty and facetimey. If you can’t study with noise, that’s okay — as you go upstairs to 2FB, 3FB and 4FB, the acceptable noise level decreases.
The Stacks store the books of Baker-Berry Library, and are another silent study space. If you find yourself here, good luck — it’s the place you go when you really have to grind.
Novack is a cafe in the library, just down the stairs from FFB. It’s home to quick snacks, grab-and-go meals and a Starbucks menu, and it’s great for grabbing a bite to eat or a drink during your long study session.
C: The following challenges are traditions some students aim to complete before their time at Dartmouth concludes.
The Ledyard Challenge requires students to strip down in New Hampshire, swim across the Connecticut River into Vermont, climb out of the riverbank and streak across the Ledyard Bridge back into New Hampshire (and back to your clothes). The hardest part of this challenge might just be avoiding getting caught by Safety and Security — who are often on the prowl for late-night swimmers.
The Lou’s Challenge comes with the most delicious reward, as it requires students to top off their all-nighter with breakfast at the town’s diner, Lou’s, right when it opens at 7 a.m. If you’re feeling ambitious enough to try the challenge on a school night, though, you only need to wait until 6 a.m.
The Dartmouth Seven refers to an endeavor in which students attempt to have sex in seven locations on campus: the top of the Hop, the 50-yard line of the football field, BEMA (Big Empty Meeting Area, a forested amphitheater), the steps of Dartmouth Hall, the Stacks, College President Phil Hanlon’s front lawn and the center of the Green.
D: Dark side is one half of Foco’s (Dartmouth’s dining hall, formally known — but never referred to — as The Class of ’53 Commons) dining area known for its dim lighting and Harry Potter-like feel. It contrasts the other half of Foco, referred to as light side, which is much brighter and home to high-top tables and booths.
E: Email is a word that is commonly interchanged with blitz. Blitz used to refer to Dartmouth’s email interface, but is now just used to refer to an email or the act of emailing someone from your Dartmouth address. Students can send a flirty blitz — a flitz — to crushes or formal dates or opt for a friendly blitz — a fritz — to their friends. Make sure to fill these emails with GIFs, rhymes and humor!
F: Flair refers to your tackiest, brightest, shiniest and silliest outfits and accessories that are worn for both fun events and normal days — the goofier, the better. Flaunt an energetic smile along with your flair and leave your embarrassment in your dorm. Don’t worry, you’re not too cool for flair.
G: Get on table means to claim a place at a pong table. If there are already four people playing, you can reserve ones, twos and so on to secure a spot in line at the table for you and your friends when the ongoing game ends.
H: The Hop is formally known as the Hopkins Center for the Arts. It houses Dartmouth’s music and theater departments, and frequently hosts music, dance and theater performances. Students may also use “The Hop” when referring to a dining area inside the building, officially called The Courtyard Cafe. Although the building will undergo renovations beginning in December, the Courtyard Cafe will remain open.
I: Irving is one of the newest buildings on Dartmouth’s campus, and it is home to many study spaces and another eatery called The Fern. Irving is a long walk down Tuck Drive, so unless you live in the River dorms or have loaded your schedule with engineering classes, it may be a bit out of the way.
J: Jobnet Query is not technically Dartmouth lingo, but it is a database specifically for listing available jobs at Dartmouth for students. If you’re searching for your first campus job, this is the place to look.
K: Keystone is the beer of choice at Dartmouth. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s the drink that fills up the pong cups, stinks up the basements and gets the floor all sticky. (Side note: make sure you designate an old pair of sneakers as your frat shoes so you don’t ruin a good pair in the dirty frat basements.)
L: Layups are easy classes. Layup List is a website that crowdsources course reviews, so you can judge just how difficult past students have found the class you’re planning to take. The site lists past median grades, and students can leave anonymous reviews of specific courses.
M: Meal swipes are one method to pay for your meals, as opposed to DBA (another term for dining dollars) and DA$H (money loaded to your student ID account). As a freshman, you’re on the Ivy Unlimited meal plan, which means that you have unlimited meal swipes — thus unlimited access to Foco — along with $250 in DBA. At cafes and dining halls other than Foco, you have the option to use a meal swipe in exchange for an equivalent value in DBA (the value changes based on the meal period), or you can use your DBA.
N: NARP stands for Non-Athletic Regular Person. Dartmouth is a relatively athletic campus; more than 75% of undergraduates on campus are involved with sports in some capacity. There are also plenty of ways to stay active on campus outside of organized club or varsity sports — whether that be hiking one of the trails near campus, taking a trip to the Dartmouth Skiway in the winter or participating in Dartmouth Outing Club trips.
O: On-nights refer to the nights of the week — typically Wednesday, Friday and Saturday — that are designated for going out to fraternities and sororities. On these nights, typically at around 11 p.m., many fraternities and sororities will open their basements to partygoers. You won’t be able to go out until the six-week-long freshman frat ban is lifted, but fortunately when the time does come, you’ll find that many Greek-hosted parties are open-to-campus; all you need to be let in is a Dartmouth ID.
P: Pong is the unofficial sport of Dartmouth, and it’s different from beer pong played elsewhere. In Dartmouth pong, players — usually two teams of two — hit a ball back and forth with handleless paddles, attempting to hit the ball into a cup, usually filled with beer or another alcohol. Some pick it up easily and others may take more time, but don’t worry — you’ll catch on soon enough if you’re interested.
Q: The quarter system at Dartmouth means that instead of having a fall and spring semester, academic terms are split into the four seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. Dartmouth’s academic calendar is called the D-Plan, which means that students have more flexibility to choose which terms they are enrolled for. Students must be enrolled for their freshman fall through spring and for their sophomore summer, but with a few restrictions, you can choose which twelve terms you spend taking classes and which three terms you take off. When students abbreviate the term, they use the year number followed by a letter indicating the season. As a member of the Class of 2026, your first term is 22F, your first snowball fight will be in 23W, you’ll experience your first Green Key in 23S, and your sophomore summer will be during 24X.
R: Robo is short for Robinson Hall, which is located next to Collis Cafe on North Main Street. It houses many student groups and extracurricular organizations, including the DOC, the Dartmouth Forensic Union, WebDCR and, of course, The Dartmouth’s offices.
S: Sunrikes are hikes taken at sunrise, and sunsikes are hikes taken at sunset. These are popular excursions amongst students who want to take advantage of Dartmouth’s beautiful natural surroundings. During the fall, many students make these treks up Gile Mountain in Norwich for beautiful views of peak foliage, which occurs when the autumn leaves are at their brightest.
T: Tails is a themed event hosted at the beginning of each on-night by a Greek organization before most houses open to all of campus. Typically, tails are invite-only and theme-appropriate flair is encouraged.
U: UGA stands for undergraduate advisor, and every one of you will be assigned one based on your dorm. UGAs serve the same role as residential advisors at other schools, and they can be a great resource for any questions or concerns you may have as you transition into life at Dartmouth.
V: BVAC (bear with me and ignore the B for the sake of this alphabet) is an abbreviation — pronounced like bee-vack — for the Black Family Visual Arts Center. This building is home to the studio art and film and media departments.
W: Woccom is the term for a walk around Occom Pond.
X: X is a symbol for chi, one of the letters of the Greek alphabet. Several Greek organizations on campus use chi in their names, including fraternities Alpha Chi Alpha, Chi Gamma Epsilon, Chi Heorot, Gamma Delta Chi and Theta Delta Chi, along with Chi Delta sorority. You can’t rush a Greek house during your freshman year, but beginning sophomore fall, you can rush to join these groups, along with the variety of other Greek houses that do not use chi in their name: fraternities Beta Alpha Omega, Bones Gate, Kappa Pi Kappa, Phi Delta Alpha, Psi Upsilon, Scarlett Hall, Sigma Nu, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Psi; sororities Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta, Epsilon Kappa Theta, Kappa Delta, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Delta; gender-inclusive Greek houses Alpha Theta, Phi Tau and The Tabard and Pan-Hellenic houses The Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Theta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and The Pi Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Y: You (assuming you’re a first-year student) are a ’26. Dartmouth students refer to themselves by the year they graduate — not as a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. Though some professors and non-Dartmouth students may be confused at the sound of this, any Dartmouth student or alum will understand.
Z: Zoom. I’m sure you already know what this is, but in case you’ve somehow avoided it for the past two years, this is a video chat platform that many professors used to facilitate online classes during the height of the pandemic. Unlike the aforementioned lingo, I really hope you don’t have to use this too much.