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An alumnus (/əˈlʌmnəs/ (masculine), an alumna (/əˈlʌmnə/ (feminine), or an alumnum (/əˈlʌmnəm/ (gender-neutral) of a college, university, or other school is a former student. The word is Latin and simply means student. The plural is alumni (/əˈlʌmn/) for men and mixed groups and alumnae (/əˈlʌmn/) for women. The term is often mistakenly thought of as synonymous with "graduate," but they are not synonyms; one can be an alumnus without graduating. (Burt Reynolds, alumnus but not graduate of Florida State, is a famous example.) An alumnus can also be a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate.[1][2]

Contents

EtymologyEdit

The Latin noun alumnus means “foster son” or “pupil” and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish".[3] The word alumnus appears in Roman law to describe a child placed in fosterage.[4] According to John Boswell, the word "is nowhere defined in relation to status, privilege, or obligation."[5] 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."[6]

UsageEdit

An alumnus, alumna, or alumnum is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university).[7] According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges[8] 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.[9]

The term is sometimes informally shortened to "alum" (optional plural "alums").[10]

Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions. They are usually organized by alumni associations and are often social occasions for fundraising. The terminology is primarily used in the USA, although its usage is gradually becoming more widespread.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "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 
  2. ^ "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 
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster: alumnus...
  4. ^ For example, Digest 40, 2, 14
  5. ^ Boswell 1988, pp. 116.
  6. ^ Boswell 1988, pp. 117–119.
  7. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "alumni – Definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  10. ^ "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

BibliographyEdit

  • Boswell, John (1988). The Kindness of Strangers:The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance. New York: Pantheon. ISBN 9780226067124. 

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of alumnus at Wiktionary