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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 alumnus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was an alumnus of the university, and had been appealed to to enlarge the opportunities of his Alma Mater.

    The Popes and Science James J. Walsh
  • He is an alumnus of Dartmouth of '87 and of Boston University, department of medicine, of '90.

    Among the Sioux R. J. Creswell
  • Both of these journals are published by private corporations, as was the alumnus at first.

  • But the work of the Association and its officers has not stopped with the alumnus.

  • Dr. Stookey was an alumnus of Coe of the class of 1884, the first class to be graduated after Coe became a college.

    History of Linn County Iowa Luther A. Brewer
British Dictionary definitions for alumnus


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 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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