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The Durham Dictionary

When you get to Durham, and maybe even before you arrive, you might hear words that mean absolutely nothing to you. Durham has its own language and we want to help you get to grips with it. Here’s our top 10 from the Durham dictionary. You can read the full blog post on the Durham Student Union website here.

Billy B 

The affectionate name for Durham’s main library. The term Billy B even gave rise to the library mascot, the Billy Bee.


This is the acronym for Durham University Online and is a University portal that contains a lot of important resources, like lecture handouts.


Freshers’ Reps are often known as ‘Freps’. They’re older students from your college who have volunteered to help you settle into Durham. They’ll be amongst the first people you meet when you arrive and are a good source of specialist Durham knowledge.

Hill and Bailey 

Most of Durham’s colleges fall into two categories, ‘hill’ or ‘bailey’, depending on their location. You’ll soon find out which one you’re in, and that this leads to some (friendly) rivalries.


Junior Common Rooms (undergraduates), Middle Common Rooms (postgraduates), Senior Common Rooms (staff, alumni and local community) are often described as ‘mini students’ unions’. They’re your college’s student body and make decisions about everything that goes on in college.


This is a traditional Durham ceremony that you will go to in Freshers’ Week. It mainly involves going to the Cathedral in smart clothing, maybe a gown, and getting to feel very important.

Michaelmas, Epiphany and Easter term 

Durham’s academic year is split into three terms. They come in that order.


More a taxi than a bus, you can ring the Nightbus to take you between any locations in Durham, and it only costs £2.


A student-run listening service you can reach every night throughout the term when you need someone to talk to.


This fetching purple is the University’s official colour, and also the name of the award-winning student newspaper.

Check out the full blog on our Student Union webpages.

Durham Castle

Ellie Scorah

An English graduate and aspiring journalist, I am now a PR and Communications Coordinator for Durham Students' Union! I also have a blog with my friend Katie in which we take objects, from the mundane to the plain obscure, and explore their associations.

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