Difference Between Fraternity and Sorority (With Table)

Associations, groups, and organizations are a few words used to describe a group of people who are together for a purpose. Amidst these words, there are few other terms like fraternity and sorority that are used in the same context. Over time, these fraternity and sorority terms have adopted a negative connotation. 

Fraternity vs Sorority

The difference between fraternity and sorority is that the fraternity groups consist of only male members, and the sorority groups are constituted with only female members. Sex is the significant and exclusive difference between this fraternity and sorority groups. Apart from this, both groups tend to function in the same way.

The word fraternity is defined as a brotherhood. Fraternity derives its origins from the Latin word ‘Fraternus’, which means brother. So, this term was used to describe any social groups that are filled with male members united for a particular cause or goal. Unlike social organizations, fraternity groups are not always working for a positive or societal change

The word sorority is briefly defined as sisterhood. Sorority derives its origins from the Latin word ‘Soror’, which means sister. Thus, the term was used to describe or denote any social groups that are filled exclusively with the female members united for a particular cause or goal. These groups are usually found in universities.

Comparison Table Between Fraternity and Sorority

Parameters of ComparisonFraternitySorority
Origin wordLatin word ‘Fraternus’.Latin word ‘Soror’.
Origin meaningFraternus means brother.Soror means sister.
DefinitionIt is an organization that is filled with male members united for a common cause.It is an organization that is filled with female members united for a common cause.
MembershipIt is opened exclusively to males.It is opened exclusively to females.
InceptionThe first fraternity group was Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776.The first sorority group was Gamma Phi Beta, founded in 1874.

What is Fraternity?

The term Fraternity is used to denote the idea of brotherhood. Traditionally, this term was associated with any organizations or clubs that are exclusively filled with only male members. The word derives its origin from the Latin word ‘Fraternus’, which means brother in Latin. The term has acquired a negative connotation due to the undesirable usage of few discriminatory groups.

The word fraternity is now widely used around the world to denote any organization or group of people with similar interests. It has moved from the exclusively male attribute and is now used as a common term, inclusive of everyone. The term fraternity is now even used in the constitutions of several countries. 

A few of the characteristics of the fraternity groups are secrecy, ritual, symbols, residencies, and governance. Most of the fraternity groups are usually found at universities. This is also the reason why fraternity groups share a long history of being associated with academia. Some of the crucial criticism against these groups are issues of elitism, alcoholism, sexism, racism, and discrimination.

Historically, the first fraternity groups date back to the late 18th century. Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 in North America. Many of these groups abandoned the character of secrecy as they transformed into scholastic honour societies.

What is Sorority?

The term sorority is used to denote the idea of sisterhood. Traditionally, this term was associated with any organizations or clubs that are exclusively filled with only female members. The word derives its origin from the Latin word ‘Soror’, which means sister in Latin. Unlike fraternity, this term has not acquired any negative connotation. 

Sorority groups are social organization groups that are exclusively for females. Earlier in the 1850s, the term women’s fraternity was used to denote these groups. After the correction of Dr Frank Smalley, the professor of Latin at the Syracuse University, the word ‘Soror’ and sorority was used by the groups. 

The sorority is, in simple terms, the female equivalent of fraternities. These groups are filled with only female members, just like fraternity groups with males. Sororities share similar characteristics to fraternities, like working for a common cause. Sorority groups were instrumental in upholding women’s rights and equality in the late 19th century. 

Sorority groups were majorly formed within the universities and faced several administrative issues by the university administrations. Unlike fraternity groups, they were restricted by the college administrations. Gamma Phi Beta, founded in 1874 at Syracuse University, is one of the first sorority groups in the world.

Main Differences Between Fraternity and Sorority

  1. Fraternity is derived from the Latin term ‘Fraternus’. The sorority is derived from the Latin term ‘Soror’.
  2. The meaning of the term ‘Fraternus’ is brother. The meaning of the term ‘Soror’ is sister.
  3. Fraternity groups are exclusively filled with male members working together for a common cause. Sorority groups are exclusively filled with female members working together for a common cause or goal.
  4. Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, is the first fraternity group ever. Gamma Phi Beta, founded in 1874 at Syracuse University, is one of the first sorority groups.
  5. Fraternity groups were usually associated with academia and transformed into scholastic honour societies. Sorority groups struggled with administrative issues at the universities as they voiced out for women’s rights and equality in the 1850s.

Conclusion

The culture of activism, protests, secret societies dates back to the late 18th century. These groups of fraternities and sororities were formed exclusively to work for their causes and goals. They have also had a fair share of criticism with issues of elitism, racism, sexism, and alcoholism. 

In simple terms, fraternities are groups filled exclusively with male members, and sororities are groups filled exclusively with female members. These terms have acquired a negative connotation due to the misusage of certain harmful groups. Despite such issues, fraternities and sororities are now found around the world. They are instrumental in advocating for societal issues like gender equality and environmental conservation. 

References

  1. https://doi.org/10.25774/2p5f-gt14
  2. 10.1353/csd.2003.0031
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