An alumnus (//; masculine) or an alumna (//; feminine) of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has either attended or graduated in some fashion from the institution. The word is Latin and simply means student. The plural is alumni (//) for men and mixed groups and alumnae (//) for women. The term is not synonymous with "graduate"; one can be an alumnus without graduating. (Burt Reynolds, alumnus but not graduate of Florida State, is an example.) An alumnus can also be and is more recently expanded to include a former employee of an organization and it may also apply to a former member, contributor, or inmate.
The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son" or "pupil". It is derived from PIE *h₂el- (grow, nourish), and is closely related to the Latin verb alo "to nourish". Separate, but from the same root, is the adjective almus "nourishing", found in the phrase Alma Mater, a title for a person's home university.
In Latin, alumnus is a legal term (Roman law) to describe a child placed in fosterage. According to John Boswell, the word "is nowhere defined in relation to status, privilege, or obligation." Citing the research of John Boswell, who studied the many inscriptions about alumni, Boswell concluded that it referred to exposed children who were taken into a household where they were "regarded as somewhere between an heir and a slave, partaking in different ways of both categories." Despite the warmth of feelings between the parent and child, "an alumnus might be treated both as a beloved child and as a household servant."
An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university). According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges or a female group of students. The term alumni is used in conjunction with either men's colleges, a male group of students, or a mixed group of students:
In accordance with the rules of grammar governing the inflexion of nouns in the Romance languages, the masculine plural alumni is correctly used for groups composed of both sexes: the alumni of Princeton University.
The term is sometimes informally shortened to "alum" (optional plural "alums").
- "The State Of Corporate Alumni : 2017 Survey Results". EnterpriseAlumni - Large Organization Alumni & Retiree Management. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
- "Alumni – Definition from the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
1: A person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university. 2: a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate
- "Alumnus – definition of alumnus by Macmillan dictionary". Macmillandictionary.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
Someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university
- Merriam-Webster: alumnus...
- For example, Digest 40, 2, 14
- Boswell 1988, pp. 116.
- Boswell 1988, pp. 117–119.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
- "Archived: Women's Colleges in the United States: History, Issues, and Challenges". Ed.gov. Archived from the original on 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- "alumni – Definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- "alum." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006. 1 December 2006. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alum
- The dictionary definition of alumnus at Wiktionary