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Oxford Dictionary*

* The unofficial student one that is 

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U -


Academic review.  noun

 An annual meeting with your tutors and the Master where they discuss your progress. They only last about 5 minutes and, provided          you’ve more or less kept up with work, are nothing to be afraid of.


Aldates.   proper noun

1. The main road off which Pembroke is situated, also home to Christchurch

2. A pub local to Pembroke but not our actual ‘local’.


Ball, noun

An occasion to dress up and dance. These are very popular and very common at Oxford so look out! Pembroke hosts one every two years


Banter. noun

The generally good-natured teasing that abounds between sports teams, colleges, university societies and among friends. Perhaps not unique to Oxford but it’s something that we’re damn good at.


Battel(s). noun; 

These are the bills you pay to college at the beginning of each term for accommodation, hall food, and utilities. It doesn’t feel like you’re spending real money which can be very good indeed but can equally be very dangerous…



In the sense of to be 'batteled'. That is for bills to be added to Battels. The act of bills being added. Drinks at bops and at the Boat House during regattas can  be ‘batteled’

Blue.  noun

1. Someone who plays for a University sports team (as opposed to simply a college one). Technically you have to have played in a Varsity match (e.g. against Cambridge) to acquire a Blue.  ie. Did you hear, Mark is a blue

2. The name for a sports team at university level. ie. Did you hear, Mark is in the Blues team

3. Slang for distinction of playing at a high level ie. did you hear - Mark got a blue


Bod. proper noun

1. The Bodleian Library. Oxford’s biggest and most famous library, it holds every book ever published in this country, apparently. Books here are reference only, which can be handy if all the books on your latest reading list have been pillaged from faculty libraries by your course-mates -when it comes to books, Oxford’s a dog-eat-dog world.

 2. Your Bod Card is your University Identification Card which gives you access to Oxford’s libraries (including the Bod, your faculty library and college library), proves you’re a student for discounts, and is something you should have on you at all times.


Books. noun

Oxford libraries are (unsurprisingly) well stocked, so there’s no need to rush out and buy books. 


Bop. noun

The name for a college-organised party. There’s always a theme which calls for a pre-closing time Primark run on the day where you’re highly likely to bump into some fellow Pembrokians doing the same. Etymology unknown. Suggestions include 'Breach Of the Peace' ;'Big Organised Party'; or named for the 'bopping of the head' that occurs at parties.


Brookes. Proper noun

A few miles down the road from the city centre lies the ‘other’ university in Oxford. The source of endless banter when it comes to academic prowess, Brookes students are, nevertheless, well-respected for their fun-loving nature which you can sample at any of the Brookes club nights.


Budgeting. verb

Oxford is an expensive place. Beware because the end of the month tends to get tight financially. Many students use apps to stay on top of their expenses. Excel spreadsheet is also a good way of keeping tabs on your costs. Try to use cash if you're prone to spending a lot on a night out and leave your card at home.


Carfax. Proper noun

The meeting point of four major roads in the centre of Oxford (St Aldates, Queen Street, High Street and Cornmarket Street), on the corner of which is a 13th Century bell tower. Also an easy place to hail taxis.


Carnations, noun

It's not uncommon to see students in subfusc wearing flowers on their left side. This is another old quirk of Oxford tradition that no one quite knows why it started. Traditionally you wear a white carnation for your prelims, a pink carnation for your middle exams and a red carnation for your final set. 


Cherwell, the. Proper noun

1. Part of the river on which you can punt.

2. The name of one of Oxford’s major student newspapers.


Christ Church. Proper Noun

It might have a Cathedral, Harry Potter may have been filmed there etc., but what they have in size and money, Pembroke’s got in charm, friendliness and unity. And for the record, they don’t own us.


Christ Church Meadows. proper noun

Beautiful stretch of fields and river just a five min walk from Pembroke. Perfect for jogging and picnics. Plus there are cows.

Collections.  noun

Exams taken at the start of each term to make sure you’re ‘consolidating’ your work over the holidays.


Committee, JCR, noun

The collection of JCR reps who form the council governing the JCR body. This team is here to give students a voice and manage the student aspects of university life. Feel free to contact them with any questions or ideas.


Coming up. verb 

Whether or not you live south of the city, returning to Oxford from home at the start of term is referred to as 'coming up'.


Cowley. noun

Cowley, or more precisely Cowley Road, in East Oxford is where most 2nd years rent houses. A short bike ride from college, it has an eclectic mix of places to eat, drink and shop.


Crew date. noun

A booze-and-banter-fest which sees a sports team attempting to drink the sports team of another college (of the opposite sex) under the table. Beginning at a BYOB curry house, they usually move onto a college bar followed by a club (for those that make it that far, that is). Not compulsory and one can choose not to drink if they want.

Cuppers, noun

Any inter-collegiate competition from drama to football. Results in a healthy college pride and friendly rivalry. 



Dean. noun

Looks after the undergraduates at Pembroke



To be 'deaned' means reporting to the dean to be disciplined.


Dean, Junior. noun

Members of the welfare team, these are 2 elected MCR students who have the thankless job of looking after undergrads and lending a sympathetic ear. Also involved with disciplinary matters in college.


Don. noun

Refers to any of the following; fellow, tutor, lecturer, or professor.



Entz. Noun

Abbreviation: ‘entertainment’ – college fun and activities. 

Entz Reps. Collective noun

JCR committee members responsible for organising said fun.


Essay crisis. Noun

The inevitable realisation that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Ideal remedies include: cups of tea, exercise, pro-plus, G&D’s coffee and Pembroke’s 24-hour ‘ladbrary’. It happens to all of us, and it’s not the end of the world (even though it might seem like it sometimes). You got this! If you have a friend in one of these, some words of encouragement or chocolate never goes amiss.

Exam Schools. Collective noun

A building on High Street where exams, and some lectures take place. No photos allowed.



Farthings. proper noun

Cafe. The social hub of Pembroke; Farthings is located in Rokos Quad and offers coffee, sandwiches, paninis, bagels, cooked breakfast and a variety of cakes. Great for a quick lunch, library break or just a general chat.


Food Shopping. verb

Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and M&S (oooh fancy) are all within two minutes of Pembroke, so get a Nectar card and Clubcard ASAP.


Formal Hall. noun

On Tuesdays and Thursdays you get posher food served to you at dinner. There is, however, a choice to opt in or out of formal hall. Fellows often sit at High Table on these days (eating even posher food). The meal begins with grace and you must wear your gown. Sounds uptight but they’re actually really good fun and prone to fantastic conversation. You can always play with the melted candle wax if the conversation doesn’t set you alight.

Fresher. noun

A student who is in their first year of study at Oxford. Also collective, Freshers.

Freshers Fair. noun

A mad and exciting social event which takes place in the Exam Schools , full of every single soc and group open to students. Lots of free giveaways.


Freshers Guide. noun

A fun document created for the incoming Freshers each year with important information and insights into university and college life. Click here to access the 2023 guide.

Also a phrase which has caused much controversy over the lack of apostrophe. Jury's out on whether it's Freshers, Fresher's or Freshers'.

Freshers Week. noun

0th Week of Michaelmas is set aside for moving, orientation, induction classes and the Freshers Fair.



GAB, the acronym. noun

Pembroke’s off-site accommodation, located about a 10 min walk away from college.


Gown, commoners. noun

The bits of black cloth which are worn on Matriculation Day, at formal hall, for academic reviews and collections and a few other occasions. One of Oxford's oldest traditions this is something students are particularly proud of. Worn over subfusc.

Gown, Scholars. noun

If you manage to get a First in your mods/prelims, you’re rewarded with a more flamboyant and poofy gown. 



Hacks. collective noun

People who are heavily involved in Oxford Union or OUSU politics. Often found loitering in the Porters’ Lodge around election time, luring potential voters with chocolate biscuits and a cheesy grin.


Hilary. proper noun

The second, spring term. From January-March.



Isis, the. proper noun

1. The bit of the Thames where the termly rowing competitions take place and home to most Oxford college boathouses. Found just off Christ Church Meadows.

 2. A student magazine.



JCR. Acronym

1. The Junior Common Room is the collective name for anyone studying an undergraduate degree in the college. JCR meetings are held once a fortnight during term on Sunday evening in the common room. Any member of the JCR (undergraduate) can bring motions to the meeting, which are then discussed and voted on.

 2. The large room designed as a central common room for the college, containing the pool table, board games, newspapers and magazines and some comfy-ish chairs. Ideal for procrastination.

3. The colloquial name for the JCR reps who run the meetings and act as student ambassadors in many roles. 


Kitchen. noun

A great place of utility. For cooking. Particularly popular on Saturday nights when Freshers tend to cook in friend groups. Kitchens are located in staircases 8, 9, 14, 16, 17 18 and the Mac. Ovens can be found in 8 and 18, all other kitchens have microwaves and all except 17 have hobs.



Ladbrary. noun

Lad term for the McGowin library. One of Pembroke's libs.

Laundry. noun

A great place of adult responsibilities. Laundries are located in staircase 14 and the Mac, equipped with washing machines, tumble dryers, irons and ironing boards. The current cost is £2.20 for a wash and another £1 per 50 minute dry, and the machines accept contactless payments.


Lib. abbreviation

Short for library. A place of Great Importance and site of socialising and essay crises. Oxford has 30 libraries and over 30 million books. The Pembroke lib is open 24/7.


Mac. Abbreviation

The largest housing block in North Quad, reserved for Freshers and a few fourth years. Very 70s and not pretty, but spacious and provides lots of opportunities for socialising. Certainly an icebreaker to bond over.

Marriage, noun

Don't worry. Nothing to do with actual marriage. This old Oxford tradition sees a stable basis for college families. Throughout the year, freshers can propose to each other and get college married. Then, in your second year, you and your spouse become college parents to incoming freshers. The JCR even hosts a marital ceremony in Trinity Term for the new couples.


Magdalen. proper noun

Prounounced mawd-lin. A big college on the river. Has a nice park with deer. 

Master. proper noun

Head of Pembroke College – the big cheese. Other colleges might call this position a Principal or Officer.


Matriculation, noun

On Matriculation day (Saturday of 1st Week) you officially become a member of the University after a service spoken in Latin at The Sheldonian Theatre.  After the important stuff is over, it’s straight to the pub – hence the name Matriculash. Other matriculation-themed words include matricultrash, a rude word referring to students who get excessively wasted.

Mayday. proper noun

Another excuse for a night out, the tradition is to go out the night before and stay up until dawn on the 1st of May to hear the Magdalen choir sing from Magdalen Bridge.


MCR. acronym

The Middle Common Room consists of any graduate students based at Pembroke. If you’re a 4th year undergraduate, you are also automatically part of the MCR, and can use their common room and go to their events too.


Michaelmas. proper noun

The first, and autumn term of the academic year. October-December.


Mods. Abbreviation

Short for Moderations. These are the first public examinations you take at Oxford. They don't count towards finals, but are required to be passed in order to begin your finals course. The name of and point at which you take these exams depends on the subject, but most students will complete these in Trinity term of first year. See also Prelims.


Mortar Board, noun

The cap that's required as part of your formal subfusc. It's a large square and comes with tassels. You have to bring it to all your exams but you can't wear it until you graduate!


Motion. noun

A great way to put forward new ideas, get your voice heard in college and mandate the JCR Committee to act on your behalf, motions can be put forward by any undergrad. They can range from funding a party in the JCR to altering the catering services provided by college. Proposals are then voted for at the fortnightly meetings. Motions need to be submitted in advance of the meeting to the JCR Secretary.



North Quad. propenoun

This quad is the quirkiest (probably in Oxford but certainly in Pembroke) made up of individual houses which college has turned so they're facing in towards the rest of Pembroke. All the Freshers live here and its a great place for socialising.

0-week. noun

Pronounced Oh-week, 0th week or naught week. The first week of every term in which students arrive and collections take place. No classes or lectures are scheduled so it provides a good time to relax in Oxford.


OSU. Acronym

Not to be confused with the Oxford Union, OSU is the Oxford Student Union representing every student in Oxford, and is based on Worcester Street. See their website for more info on their roles and services.


Parents, college. Collective noun

Most colleges give freshers ‘parents’ – students in higher years who help you find your feet. Pembroke in particular is very proud of this system and it's not uncommon to find people catching up with their 'grandparents' in larger groups. These are sent out to all Freshers during the Summer Vac. 

Pidge, abbreviation

Your pigeon hole in the Porter’s Lodge is where you’ll receive university mail, messages/essays from Tutors, and any standard post addressed to you. The wonders of pigeon post mean you can send stuff to anyone at any college in Oxford simply by putting their name and college on the envelope and handing it to the porter in the lodge. Often a hiding place for chocolates and welfare cookies.


Plodge, abbreviation

Shortened form of the ‘Porter’s Lodge’, you need your fob-key to enter the college through here in the evening and on weekends. Important notices are often pinned up here and fliers (incl. domino’s discount vouchers) also lie around. This is a good meeting spot for going out with friends. If you wish to bring a guest into college after 10pm then you'll need to sign them in here.


Porter, noun

A couple of porters man the lodge 24 hours a day. You can come to them if you’ve been locked out of your room, need to collect a package, wish to give in work to a tutor, or want a chat about the meaning of life. They are our VIPs so be very nice to them.



Quad, noun

A (normally) quadrilateral space in a college, usually with grass. In Pembroke we have several Quads - the more traditional Old and Chapel Quads, along with less conventional quads such as North Quad and Rokos Quad.



Rad Cam, abbreviation

The Radcliffe Camera, is an extension of the Bodleian Library. The famous dome shaped building in tourist photos. A very beautiful building with heaps of books, its aesthetic interior means it's frequented by History and English types. Linked to the Bod via a secret student-only passage. Not to be confused with Daniel Radcliffe.

Rep, JCR

A member or the JCR committee, a Rep is responsible for a certain aspect of JCR life. These include Gender Equalities, Communications, Sport, Entz and many more.


Rokos, proper noun

The newest quad. By Farthings. This houses mostly second years and several third years.


Rooms, noun

We’re extremely lucky at Pembroke that College can offer us accommodation for 3 years. Rooms are allocated into different bands with rent varying accordingly.

Rusticate, verb

Rusticating is the act of taking a year out of university studies.

Rustication, noun

Temporary suspension from the University, usually as a result of health reasons, a difficult family situation, personal reasons, and less frequently for poor academic performance or as major disciplinary offence. Essentially you take a year out and re-start your course the next academic year.


Salto, noun

The college key that lets you in and out of college and allows you into hall. Saltos can also be topped up with money to spend in Farthings. This can be done via the Pembroke Intranet. Used as your room entrance key in modern blocks.


Scout, noun

The wonderful person who cleans your room once a week and empties your bin everyday.  Comes with plenty of  awkward encounters when they come in your room when you least expect. Worth staying in their good books as they can be very helpful.


SCR, acronym

The Senior Common Room consists of all the Fellows associated with Pembroke. It goes without saying that you’ll want to maintain good relations with this lot. They have a gorgeous library.


Staircase, noun

Informal Oxford term for the groupings of students who tend to live together in one staircase. 


Stash, noun

Any merchandise expressing college, club, society, production, or sports team affiliations.


Student ID, noun

May seem like an obvious one, but get it sorted now and thank me later. Your student ID proves you are a student and qualifies you for all sorts of perks such as rail cards, Amazon Student Accounts and discounts in stores.


Sub-fusc, noun

Latin for 'dark brown; this is the garb under your gown that your're required to wear for Matriculation and for any University examinations you take (not collections). It's gender neutral so choose your preference of:

  1. One of: 

    • Dark suit with dark socks, or

    • Dark skirt with black tights or stockings, or

    • Dark trousers with dark socks or dark hosiery

  2. Dark coat, if required - worn underneath the gown

  3. Black shoes

  4. Plain white collared shirt or blouse

  5. White bow tie, black bow tie, black full-length tie, or black ribbon.

This is worn with your mortar board and gown. Girls have the option of a soft cap, but it’s not particularly attractive, it must be said, so stick with the mortarboard. Deals are available for mortarboards, neckties and gowns, bundled together for around £25 at shops such as Shepherd and Woodward..


Summer Eights, noun

In 5th Week of Trinity Term, rowing fever descends on Oxford as the biggest rowing competition of the year takes place over 4 days, Summer Eights. An occasion for much merrymaking at the Boat House with Pimm’s galore. If you don’t row, be prepared for non-stop rowing chat!



Tab, noun

People from 'the other place' (Cambridge).


Trinity, proper noun

The third term of the year, worth the exam stress for the joys of a sun-drenched Chapel Quad, Pimm's and croquet. April-June.


Tute, abbreviation, noun

Tutorials are weekly sessions that are supposed to last an hour but inevitably run over. In this time, you'll meet with your tutor to discuss your work from the week before, and to cover new topics. These usually take place 1-1 or 1-2. It's one of the most unique things about Oxford.



Union, the Oxford,  proper noun 

            The Oxford Union is primarily a debating society, but they also invite world-class speakers and hold regular black-tie events. The joining fee is              £270ish (Or £160 on the access scheme) so it's expensive to join but the membership is for life. A special discount is available in 0 Week.                    Memberships also grant you use of the OU library, bar and balls.


Vac, abbreviation, noun

Short for Vacation, this is the Oxford term for holidays. Although you’ll be away from Oxford, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be free from work!


Varsity,  noun

1. The term for any match between Oxford and Cambridge, the most notable of which is the Boat Race.

2. The largest student-run ski trip in the world, run every year for Oxbridge students. Chillingly cool, a once in a lifetime trip – watch out places will go fast at the beginning of Michaelmas.

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