Common Terminology for Private Clubs
Private clubs are members' only associations where groups of people with similar hobbies, backgrounds or philosophies can discuss, enjoy and participate in activities of common interest. Some clubs, like dining clubs, yacht clubs and golfing clubs have self-explanatory activities, while some fraternal organizations and secret societies are shrouded in mystery. Here are some terms commonly associated with private clubs:
Fraternity: A social organization of men united by a common purpose, rather than political, religious or familial ties. Fraternities evolved from medieval trade guilds, where members of a particular trade could rely on a kind of welfare in the absence of a socialized form of economic relief. In colleges and universities, fraternities are student societies that include the use of formal initiations, symbolism, and organizational structures known as chapters. They are commonly undergraduate organizations, but some are extended to the graduate school level.
Sorority: Collegiate organizations for women. Like fraternities, sororities are initiation only societies wherein members are united by a common philosophy, culture or religion. Sororities are today modeled similarly to fraternities but were originally organized as literary societies.
Freemasonry: An ancient order with origins dating back to the 16th century. Freemasons are united by a promotion of solidarity between all human beings, a belief in a supreme being, although members keep that being unspecified, and the motto: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." Divulging actual rituals is discouraged, as is disclosure of the names of other members of the association. Freemason symbolism is based upon the medieval tools of masonry, and the symbolic square and compass are always found in Masonic Lodges.