Phi Beta Kappa (Society), from phi + beta + kappa, initials of the society's Greek motto philosophia biou kybernētēs philosophy the guide of life
First Known Use: 1912
Phi Beta Kappa
Leading academic honour society in the U.S., which draws its membership from college and university students. The oldest Greek-letter society in the U.S., it was founded in 1776 as a secret literary and philosophical society at the College of William and Mary. It became an honour society in the 19th century. Membership is now based on general scholarship, and new members are usually elected by Phi Beta Kappa faculty.