Harvardisms: Learning The Lingo

From A to Z: The Vocabulary You Need To Survive Your First Year at Harvard. 2 a.m.: 1. The hour

From A to Z: The Vocabulary You Need To Survive Your First Year at Harvard.

2 a.m.: 1. The hour that on-campus parties, Felipe’s, and Charlie’s all shut down. 2. The hour you’re likely to have your first drunk run-in with HUPD. 3. When the Kong, house grills, final clubs, and maybe some day Felipe’s, are still serving.

ABP: 1. Acronym for the fast-food bakery Au Bon Pain, where croissants, chess enthusiasts, Harvardians, and tourists abound just beyond the Yard’s wrought-iron gates.

Adams House: 1. Faux-pretentious, overrated upper class house located close to the Yard. 2. Adopted dining hall of many Quadlings and Wigglesworthians—those who can get past the armed butlers and attack poodles, that is.

Ad Board: 1. The Administrative Board of Harvard College. It decides your fate if you screw up badly enough for anyone to take notice. 2. A verb: He was “ad-boarded” for getting really drunk and pushing his proctor out of the fifth-floor window (see Proctor).

Advising: 1. Hit or miss. More “hit” in small departments (Hello, Sanskrit!), with veteran proctors, and, if all goes well, with the new upper class “peer advising fellows.” 2. What your friends will still do better than anyone else.

Advocate: 1. The Harvard Advocate, a literary magazine that has been known to disseminate the ramblings of the crusty upper crust. 2. Crumbling wood-frame structure behind Noch’s which may or may not still be standing by the time you graduate.

All-Nighter: 1. What you pull the night before that 20-page paper you haven’t started is due. 2. Why CVS stays open 24-7.

Allston: 1. The current home of Harvard’s athletic facilities and a future home of upper class houses. 2. Home of Blanchard’s, king of kegs (and painfully cheap gin).

The ‘Berg: 1. Annenberg Hall, the renovated former cathedral complete with stained glass that serves as the dining hall for all first-years. 2. Where food goes to die.

Blocking: 1. Often painful process in March during which you will have to select your seven closest friends. Have fun.

Boston: 1. Where you tell people you go to school. 2. The city you claimed made you choose Harvard over Yale. 3. Thirteen minutes from Harvard on the red line. 4. A place you will rarely have occasion to visit in four years.

Brain Break: 1. A late-night snack in the dining halls of Houses and in Loker (see Loker Commons). 2. Where to rediscover the brownies you didn’t eat at dinner. 3. Where Adams House sometimes stations its security guard at 10:00 p.m., lest a Quincyite try to grab a bite (see Adams House).

Cabot House: 1. Spacious Quad house featuring large suits and abundant singles. 2. Perennial intramural powerhouse. 3. Conveniently located next to an elementary school full of screaming kids at 8:00 am.

Cabot Library: 1. The purple-curtained science library, located in the Science Center. 2. A second home for anal pre-meds. 3. An interesting smell, thanks to its long history of all-night hours during reading period.

Cambridge Common: 1. Grassy knoll separating the Quad from the rest of civilization. Steer clear at night to avoid being mugged. (Seriously.) 2. Bar on Mass. Ave. popular with Quadlings.

Cantabridgians: 1. Pretentious name given to the residents of Cambridge. 2. What Yalies call us.

Central Square: 1. One T stop down Mass. Ave. You’ll never find yourself there for unsketchy reasons.

Charlie’s: 1. Inexpensive barbershop on Mass. Ave., convenient to the Quad. 2. Eliot St. burger joint famous for awesomely greasy burgers and nonsensical pricing ($5 for a double, $8 for a triple).

Comping: 1. Harvard-speak for the sometimes-competitive training process for joining a student group. 2. Still the only way to get on the staff of The Crimson, the Advocate, or the Lampoon.

Concentration: 1. What every other college in America calls a “major.” 2. What one loses in section while checking out hot freshmen.

Coop: 1. Where tourists go to buy overpriced Harvard sweatshirts and key chains; where you will stand in line for hours at the beginning of each semester to buy overpriced textbooks. 2. Where you will never go once you realize Ebay is a hell of a lot cheaper. 3. Rhymes with “loop,” not “blow-pop.”

Core: 1. Seven required courses that allegedly teach you “approaches to knowledge” and no facts, figures or ideas—whatever that means. 2. The reason you won’t have time to take as many courses that are intellectually stimulating, challenging and fun. 3. What probably won’t exist anymore by the time you graduate (see Curricular Review).

Cornell: 1. An inferior school somewhere way west of Cambridge. 2. The one hockey game of the year you shouldn’t miss.

The Harvard Crimson: 1. The only thing on campus worth reading. 2. Cambridge’s only breakfast table daily, founded in 1873. 3. The name of almost every athletic team on campus, except for women’s crew and rugby (see Radcliffe).

Crimson Key: 1. Over-enthusiastic cult of students who organize orientation week. 2. A group that used to give campus tours to wide-eyed visitors, until they were fired by the admissions office.

Curricular Review: 1. Harvard College’s academe-leading attempt to overhaul undergraduate education. 2. No discernable progress is being made on this.

Currier House: 1. Ugly house in the Quad whose dining hall resembles that of a nursing home. 2. Ugly house in the Quad with plenty of party space and plenty of parties to fill them. 3. Ugly house in the Quad.

DeWolfe: 1. Conveniently located overflow housing for students in various river houses. Comes complete with MTV, dishwasher, refrigerator, bathtub, and bay windows. 2. You and everyone else will subsidize these luxury condominiums by suffering in cockroach-infested, cramped doubles when you’re sophomores.

Domna: 1. Ruthless Annenberg card swiper. Do not try to cut the line or sneak in past her. Do try to stay on her good side.

Dormcest: 1. Act of hooking up with a student living in close proximity, usually in the same dorm or entryway (see Hook-up). 2. The source of most Sunday brunch gossip.

Dudley House: 1. The “house” for the small percentage of students who live off-campus 2. Official caretaker of the Co-op (not to be confused with the bookstore), the convocation of independent-minded students who cook their own food, share chores, smoke dope, and occasionally bathe.

Due Date: 1. The day you e-mail your section leader for an extension on the paper you haven’t started (see Extension). 2. More of a guideline than a set rule.

Dunster House: 1. Also known as “Dumpster House.” 2. The building shown on every postcard that you will send home.

Ec 10: 1. Introduction to capitalism taught by textbook tycoon and Feldstein heir N. Gregory “Greg” Mankiw and a legion of teaching fellows. Usually the most popular (or at least most taken) class at Harvard. 2. If you’d prefer to not offend your liberal sensibilities, take Social Analysis 72.

Eliot House: 1. Where unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski ’62 spent his formative years. 2. Home of the Fête, the best formal at Harvard. 3. Its clock tower has probably had a better movie career than Matt Damon.

Expos: 1. Writing class required of all first-years. 2. A class that allows you the opportunity to beg for mercy in a cover letter, turned in with every paper.

Extension: 1. How to prolong writer’s block. 2. Harvard school attended by Hillary Duff.

Facebook: 1. Developed by Mark Zuckerberg (formerly of the class of 2006), college’s wildly popular answer to Friendster. 2. The reason you spend time racking up online friends, not real ones.

Fast Food: 1. Not an option for the hungry Harvard student, unless you’re willing to make the hike to Porter or Central Square.

Felipe’s: 1. Harvard Square’s answer to Mexican cuisine. 2. The Spanish word for “grease pit.”

Fenway Park: 1. Home field of the World Champion Boston Red Sox, perennial rivals of the New York Yankees. Go now—and leave your Yankees cap at home.

Final Clubs: 1. Eight endowed all-male clubs, housed in their own multi-million dollar mansions. 2. The center of some students’ social lives (mostly female first-years’), they are viewed disapprovingly by College administrators and women’s groups alike. 3. Bastions of socioeconomic elitism. 4. Generally overrated.

Finale: 1. A dessert-and-coffee hotspot on Dunster Street. 2. The place to spot your friends on awkward first dates, or partake in a lonely (and pricey) molten chocolate cake.

First-Year: 1. What you will be in September. 2. Gender-neutral term for “freshman.”

FM: 1. Fifteen Minutes, The Harvard Crimson’s award-winning weekend magazine. 2. Where to keep tabs on pop culture and see photos of your friends making out at parties.

Formal: 1. What you called a prom in high school. 2. House dances you’ll be attending in the spring (or the fall, if you get asked by that cute sophomore in section!).

Grade Inflation: 1. The supposed across-the-board raising of grades to undeserved levels by Harvard professors. 2. The sworn enemy of Prof. Harvey “C-” Mansfield ’53.

Due Date: 1. The day you e-mail your section leader for an extension on the paper you haven’t started (see Extension). 2. More of a guideline than a set rule.

Grill Order: 1. What to ask for at Annenberg when country-fried steak simply won’t do.

Gut: 1. A course in which no one does any work and everyone gets at least a B+. 2. The most popular courses at Harvard. (But, hey, where aren’t they?)

Harvard Student Agencies (HSA): 1. A “student” organization that offers laundry, microfridges (see Microfridge) and other, mostly useless, student services. 2. Monopoly.

Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS): 1. Make friends with them early—you’ll be at their mercy for the next four years. 2. A motley crew of dining hall workers who are very friendly, with one exception (see Domna).

Harvard University Police Department (HUPD): 1. Rhymes with “cup tea.” 2. They’ll keep you safe, but make sure that certain “aroma” doesn’t leak from your room. They will find it.

H-Bomb: 1. The process of revealing to others that you attend Harvard University. Usage: “Last night was our second date and I dropped the H-Bomb. Then she dumped me.” 2. Harvard’s over-hyped, over-exposed, and under-published porn magazine.

Harvard-Yale: see The Game.

Harvard-Yale Race: 1. The oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the country. 2. Multi-mile crew race held annually on the Thames river in New London, Conn., in which the ever-dominant Harvard crew embarrasses its Eli counterparts.

Head of the Charles: 1. Weekend in October devoted to a massive crew race. 2. When college and prep-school students descend on Cambridge to get drunk. 3. When your roommates will invite total strangers to drink, party, and pass out in your room. 4. A good weekend (October 21-22, this year) to skip town.

Hemenway: 1. A gym near the Science Center and the Law School. 2. Where students go when they get tired of the maze-like halls and strange smell of the MAC.

Hilles Library: 1. One of the few advantages of living in the Quad; this quiet wasteland is the best place to study on Saturdays. 2. The recently downsized Hilles offers 50,000 square feet of available space, to be used to create another magnetic student spot—like Loker Commons—called the “Penthouse Coffee Bar.” Right.

Hook-up: 1. Torrid affair of a sexual nature, often lasting less than a single night and devoid of any emotion or commitment. Often the choice of students over the alternative “date” or “relationship.”

Independent (“The Indy”): 1. The weekly publication to read if you get uncomfortably excited about old news.

Interhouse Restrictions: 1. Rules that supposedly prevent you from eating in many house dining halls. 2. What you avoid when you sneak through the back door of Adams Dining Hall.

Institute of Politics (IOP): 1. Hangout of would-be future Presidents; some will actually be President one day.

Intramural crew: 1. Harvard’s answer to House quidditch. 2. Participants wake up when everyone else is going to sleep. 3. Legitimate excuse for making a general mockery of your senior spring coursework (see Extension).

Kirkland House: 1. Small house that hosts the annual Incest Fest.

The Kong: 1. The Hong Kong restaurant on Mass. Ave. Heaven for those who love bar fights and MSG. 2. The source of that pain in your stomach the morning after the night you can’t remember (See Scorpion Bowl).

Lamont Library: 1. The most social place to study, Lamont offers comfy chairs and textbooks on reserve for all those readings you missed; too bad no studying will ever occur here. 2. Home of the language lab for those suffering through the first-year foreign language requirement. 3. During reading period, you will spend hours here surfing Facebook.com and watching Sam Teller ’08 climb on desks.

Lampoon: 1. A semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. 2. Gang of emaciated white males who amuse themselves writing penis jokes and starting fires inside their castle. 3. Campus virgin support center.

Leverett House: 1. Home to the famous eighties dance. 2. The only house where students have to cross the street to get to their own dining hall. 3. Mascot is a bunny. C’mon, a bunny?

Lobster Night: 1. A meal of long-ago, now passed into campus mythology.

Loker Commons: 1. Home of an upcoming on-campus full-time pub thanks to Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 and Zac A Corker ’04. 2. Formerly a deserted hinterland populated by misguided freshman and math nerds on week nights.

Longwood: 1. Boston neighborhood home to Harvard Medical School and the Museum of Fine Arts. 2. A half-hour trek away on the free M2 bus. 3. What you will curse when you realize the one book you really need is at Countway Library.

Lowell House: 1. Holding a set of Russian bells hostage, just because they can. 2. Lacking in views and space, Lowell House residents pay a severe price for that quaint “Harvard” look.

The MAC: 1. The Malkin Athletic Center, an overcrowded gym that serves as a second home for many campus workout junkies.

Mass. Hall: 1. Yard building home to the offices of the University President and other central administration bureaucrats.

Mather House: 1. The riot-proof monstrosity designed by a prison architect. 2. The box Dunster came in.

Microfridge: 1. Refrigerator-microwave combo rented out by HSA to sucker first-years who have no hope of either keeping their food cold or heating anything up within three hours. 2. It’s actually cheaper to purchase one than to rent from HSA.

MIT: 1. Vocational-technical school a mile down Mass. Ave. 2. Where you can enroll in trade school courses (e.g., accounting for civil engineers, organometallic chemistry, etc.) that Harvard doesn’t offer.

Noch’s: 1. Pinocchio’s, a great place for a midnight slice of pizza and cramped dining. 2. Rhymes with “blokes,” not “box.”

Office Hours: 1. The chance to interact with famous professors that you will never take advantage of but should. 2. Your TF will occasionally hold these as well, allowing your peers to kiss up for better grades.

Orientation Week: 1. The seven days when you’ll meet hundreds of your new classmates and promptly forget their names as soon as classes begin. 2. Generally known as “Camp Harvard.” Don’t be fooled; Harvard is not this fun. 3. Lots of ice cream, lots of stern warnings, lots more ice cream.

Pforzheimer House: 1. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to walk there. 2. Home to the Bell Tower and other good party spots that you will drunkenly make your way to during freshman year.

Peer Advisor: 1. A socially conscious upperclassman who donates his or her time to hosting weekly study breaks and offering tame advice to first-years. 2. Probably a better source of academic advice than your official advisor (see Advising).

Poke: 1. The pseudo-sexual means of alerting a fellow Facebook member that you are stalking them.

Pre-Med: 1. A subspecies of Harvard student known for aggressive, competitive behavior. 2. A frequenter of Cabot Library who goes into fits when organic chemistry notes are misplaced. 3. You will never see these students out at a party.

Primal Scream: 1. Harvard ritual in which several hundred brave souls streak across the Yard on the night before the first day of exams. 2. Harvard ritual in which the entire remaining student body congregates to watch them—along with approximately 20 old men with video cameras.

Proctor: 1. Friendly graduate student who dispenses milk, cookies, and advice to first-years during the week. 2. Unfriendly graduate student who combats personal sexual frustration by terrorizing freshman parties.

Punch: 1. Process by which sophomore and junior males are selected by final clubs. 2. The drink served at final clubs to unsuspecting freshmen. 3. A delicious fruity drink served at other times.

Quadded: 1. The fate of some unlucky first-years in March, sent across campus for the next three years. 2. The reason people use Room 13. 3. Get a bike, get a drink.

The Quad: 1. Cambridge suburb, home of Currier, Cabot, and Pforzheimer Houses. 2. Harvard locale with “the best sense of community” and “best dining halls.” Also, “is really not that far away.” 3. Best. Place. Ever. 4. Worst. Place. Ever.

Quincy House: 1. Nicknamed “The People’s House” because of its scrumptious and (formerly) open access dining hall. 2. Convenient location, loud parties, hideous architecture. 3. Great late-night grill, which might some day reopen if its chimneys get de-gunked. 4. Home of the pimpest Masters’ Residence ever.

Radcliffe: 1. The remnants of a former women’s college in Cambridge, it now claims just a few women’s sports teams—referred to as the “Black and White,” not the Crimson—and an “Institute for Advanced Study” to its name.

Reading Period: 1. Two weeks to read a semester’s worth of text and write four 30-page papers. 2. In the winter, an extension of Christmas vacation. 3. Best time of the year to party and sleep in, unless you have introductory language courses, which meet all week.

Republican: 1. Rare political species targeted for extinction by the dominant, “open-minded” liberal populace which rules the Yard roost. Watch them as they graze.

Residential Tutors: 1. “Proctors” for upper class students (see Proctor). 2. Graduate students who get free food and housing under the guise of being “upperclass resources” (and often they are).

Salient: 1. Ultraconservative biweekly staffed by a hearty, self-loathing clique of right-wingers who attack Galileo, gays and which...wait, who are we kidding, no one reads The Salient.

Sanders: 1. Short for Sanders Theatre, the large space tucked behind Annenberg. 2. Where you will occasionally attend Ec 10 lectures, speeches and concerts. 3. Where a capella goes to die.

Scorpion Bowl: 1. Trademark Kong drink. 2. The reason you wake up sprawled topless on the Matthews steps with “BONER CITY” Sharpied on your back. 3. It always seems like a good idea at the time.

Secondary Field: 1. What every other college in America calls a “minor.” 2. How not to eat up your precious electives.

Sections: 1. Weekly meeting with graduate students of varying teaching abilities and intelligence (see TF). 2. Meant to complement courses taught by big-name professors too busy to teach the important details that will appear on the final.

Seneca: 1. A final club. 2. No, wait, not a final club. 3. An all-female social organization that is definitely not by any stretch of the imagination a final club, so don’t call us a final club, you chauvinist pig.

Sex: 1. Nickname of a core course, “The Evolution of Human Nature”—formerly a gut—taught by Prof. Marc Hauser and and Prof. Richard Wrangham. 2. Something you will have a lot of at Harvard, with very attractive people. For real, I swear. 3. Not a determinant of scientific intelligence. 4. Intercourse (only at Harvard is this #4).

Sexile: 1. The state of being temporarily kicked out of your own room while your roommate engages in sexual acts with his or her (in)significant other.

Shopping Period: 1. The first week of each semester, during which you can sample a variety of classes, parties, and mattresses.

Shuttle: 1. A bus to and from the Quad and Mather. 2. Workplace of Jesse, the kindest man in the world. 3. The vehicle you will chase and miss at 3:44 a.m. even though it’s supposed to leave at 3:45.

Spring: 1. Traditionally March, April, and May. 2. Doesn’t exist at Harvard, where temperatures jump directly from “Inside the Arctic Circle” to “Inside Of Your Mouth.”

Student Center: 1. Huh?

TF: 1. Teaching Fellow. 2. Person in control of your academic fate.

Tommy’s House of Pizza: 1. Former home of the sesame-seed crust, now just the home of seedy pizza and seedy dudes.

UHS: 1. University Health Services. 2. Not a good place to go when you’re healthy, some say. 3. Not a good place to go when you’re sick, others say. 4. Will most definitely ask you if you’re pregnant. Or drunk. Or both. Especially if you’re a guy.

Undergraduate Council (UC): 1. Self-important but incompetent band of campus politicos whose Sunday-night meetings provide comic relief in the pages of the Monday-morning Crimson. 2. The only readers of The Crimson’s UC coverage.

Upstairs on the Square: 1. Super expensive but super cool Harvard Square restaurant, sure to impress your lady on a date.

Vanserg: 1. Classroom building home to most Japanese, Chinese, and Korean classes. 2. Farther than the Quad.

Walk of Shame: 1. The infamous return to your dorm after passionate night in some guy’s Mather single, stomach heavy with drink and regret, and, if you’re unlucky, a newly fertilized egg. 2. Particularly hilarious for seniors leaving the Yard in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Widener Library: 1. Titanic library built in memory of a Titanic drowning victim. 2. Home to the stacks, where students go to pore over books. Yup, nothing but readin’ in these stacks.

Winthrop House: 1. Inhabited by generations of Kennedys. Unfortunately, it too has fallen from Camelot.

Yale: 1. The worst!! Get it? We go to Harvard!

Z: 1. The last letter in the alphabet. 2. Name of the list of students required by admissions to defer for a year—not quite good enough for this year’s class, but just great for the next one. Made up overwhelmingly of legacies.