November 9, 2010

Terminology Tuesday: Fee Fie Foe

Welcome back to Terminology Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will blog about some commonly misused terms within the Fraternity. It’s our hope that you take some time to read, laugh, smile, and then use the information to alter your word choices, and the choices of those around you. I’m sure you’ve all been asked by friends and family why we pronounce the name of our fraternity ‘phee’ and not ‘fie.’

When our ten founders established Alpha Phi, they looked to faculty and administrators at Syracuse University who supported women’s education for guidance. Wesley P. Coddington, Professor of Greek, generously gave his time and wisdom to the chapter.

Professor Coddington was instrumental in several areas of Alpha Phi’s development; from establishing our public motto, to suggesting that Frances E. Willard join the fraternity, to the pronunciation of our name. As a Professor of Greek, he taught the women that the preferred Greek pronunciation of F when it follows a vowel is ‘phee.’

You may notice that not all other organizations follow this pronunciation. The main reason these differences exist is that some organizations are using the Greek pronunciation while others are using the Anglican pronunciation. In mathematical circles "Phi" is pronounced ‘phee’ as well.

Now the next time you are asked about our fraternity’s name is you can answer with pride!

Heather Scheuer is the Program Manager of Collegiate Chapter Services at the Alpha Phi Executive Office. She can be reached at

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