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[uh-luhm-nuh s] /əˈlʌm nəs/
noun, plural alumni
[uh-luhm-nahy, -nee] /əˈlʌm naɪ, -ni/ (Show IPA)
a graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university.
a former associate, employee, member, or the like:
He invited all the alumni of the library staff to the party.
Origin of alumnus
1635-45; < Latin: foster son, pupil, equivalent to al- (stem of alere to feed, support) + -u- (< stem-vowel *-o- in interior syllable) + -m(i)nus, orig. passive participial suffix (cf. adult, old), akin to Greek -menos; see phenomenon
Can be confused
alum, alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Alumnus (in Latin a masculine noun) refers to a male graduate or former student; the plural is alumni. An alumna (in Latin a feminine noun) refers to a female graduate or former student; the plural is alumnae. Traditionally, the masculine plural alumni has been used for groups composed of both sexes and is still widely so used: the alumni of Indiana University. Sometimes, to avoid any suggestion of sexism, both terms are used for mixed groups: the alumni/alumnae of Indiana University or the alumni and alumnae of Indiana University. While not quite equivalent in meaning, the terms graduate and graduates avoid the complexities of the Latin forms and eliminate any need for using a masculine plural form to refer to both sexes. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for alumni
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Old man, are you going to be with us at the livest Friendship Feed the alumni of the good old U have ever known?

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • And yet you probably all make one mistake about me: you take me for the alumni of some university.

    Bonaventure George Washington Cable
  • Certainly the alumni haven't, and I don't believe that the administrative officers have, either.

    The Plastic Age Percy Marks
  • Some alumni might be nostalgic for the Gothic structures of their university days.

  • There is, in other words, a real sense in which the college belongs to the alumni.

    Football Days William H. Edwards
British Dictionary definitions for alumni


noun (pl) -ni (-naɪ)
(mainly US & Canadian) a graduate of a school, college, etc
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: nursling, pupil, foster son, from alere to nourish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alumni

see alumnus.



1640s, from Latin alumnus "a pupil," literally "foster son," vestigial present passive participle of alere "to nourish" (see old), with ending akin to Greek -omenos. Plural is alumni. Fem. is alumna (1882), fem. plural alumnae.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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