Cambridge is stuffed full of abbreviations, catch-all terms and shortenings. Here’s a list to help you navigate them!

  • Backs: Areas of grass running along the backs of the colleges by the river.

  • Bedders: The cleaners who look after Caius accommodation and clean your room.

  • Boatie: Slang for a rower.

  • Bops: A college-run party. Usually fancy dress (not to be confused with formal dress).

  • Bumps: A rowing race in Lent and Easter where crews try to bump the boat ahead of them.  

  • Courts: Those rectangles/circles/ovals of grass in the middle of certain college buildings that students cannot walk on. Fellows can for some reason…

  • CUSU: (Say Koo-Soo) Cambridge University Student’s Union, an organisation that helps connect the student councils at each college

  • Caius: Popular name for Gonville and Caius (Cambridge College). Pronounce ‘Keys’ or you will get your ears boxed by a Caian (a member of Caius, to be pronounced ‘Key-an’)

  • Ents: Short for Entertainments, events put on around the colleges for students.

  • Formal: Dinner served in a college’s main Hall. Open to all students at that college and very reasonably priced. At several colleges, attendees are required to wear a formal attire with the college gown.

  • Fresher: Anyone in their first year of studies.

  • Fresher’s Week: The week when Michaelmas term begins. Filled with events for Fresher’s organised by the college JCR/MCR and CUSU.

  • GCSU: Short for Gonville and Caius Students’ Union. Technically represents all students at Caius, but functionally it is the representative body for the undergraduates.

  • GU: Short for Graduate Union. Main representative body for graduate students on a University-wide basis.

  • Gyp-room: Refers to a kitchen in student accommodation.

  • Harvey Court: Another part of College accommodation, largely housing undergraduates. This is also where the MCR holds Bops and the Summer X.

  • Hermes: The University’s email service – all important faculty and College emails should be sent to your Hermes address.

  • JCR: Junior Combination Room. The College Union for undergraduate students.

  • Lent: The Spring University term, usually runs from January to March.

  • Master: The overarching head of the College, currently Professor Sir Alan Fersht.

  • Matriculation: Formal ceremony at College in which you formally become part of the University.

  • May Ball: Massive, elaborate all-night parties held (usually) in May Week (i.e. in June). Pricey, but very much part of the Cambridge experience. Caius May Balls are the best in Cambridge.

  • May Week: Cambridge’s famous week-long party in June after exams have finished.

  • MCR: Short for ”Middle Combination Room”. A protean abbreviation that can be used to refer to the entire Caius graduate body, the MCR’s Executive Committee, or either of the MCR Common Rooms located in Gonville Court or the basement of 6 Harvey Road.

  • Old Courts: The College’s main site on Trinity Street, comprised of Gonville Court, Caius Court and Tree Court.

  • Plodge: Short for Porter’s Lodge. You will visit this place way too often.

  • Porter: Vital members of college staff who are a combination of receptionists and security staff. They also know everything that goes on in college, so making friends with them is a really good idea!

  • Pidge:  Short for Pigeon Hole – a labelled compartment in the plodge where mail is delivered.

  • Raven: The University’s online authentication system, used to verify your identity for access to online databases and heaps of other things (such as the GCSU website)

  • Swaps: A group meal with students from another college or year. Arranged in Formal Halls or one of the many infamous swap restaurants in Cambridge (Mai Thai, Curry King, Sesame, etc)

  • Term: A two month long academic session at Cambridge. There are three in a year – Michaelmas, Lent and Easter.

  • The Other Place: Oxford University.

  • Tripos: Cambridge term for an undergraduate degree course. E.g. the Engineering Tripos.

  • Tutors: Every student is assigned a Tutor at College. Tutors are responsible for students’ general welfare, and can offer confidential help and advice. Tutors are available not only for consultation on all nonacademic matters, but academic matters too!