An alumnus (Latin pronunciation: [a'l?mn?s]; masculine) or an alumna ([a'l?mna]; 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 [a'l?mni:] for men and mixed groups and alumnae [a'l?mnae?] 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 *h?el- (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 Henri Leclercq, Teresa Nani, and Beryl Rawson, 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").
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
Someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university