Alumni and Alumnus Definition and Meaning: What Does Alumni Mean?

Alumnus Definition

a·lum·nus  (-lmns)

n. pl. a·lum·ni (-n)

A male graduate or former student of a school, college, or university.

[Latin, pupil, from alere, to nourish; see al-2 in Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Alumnus and alumna both come from Latin and preserve Latin plurals. Alumnus is a masculine noun whose plural is alumni, and alumna is a feminine noun whose plural is alumnae. Coeducational institutions usually use alumni for graduates of both sexes. But those who object to masculine forms in such cases may prefer the phrase alumni and alumnae or the form alumnae/i, which is the choice of many women's colleges that have begun to admit men.

The definition of alumna is a female who obtained a diploma from a school, usually high school level or above. (noun)

A female Harvard graduate is an example of an alumna.

alumnus [əˈlʌmnəs]

n pl -ni [-naɪ]

(Social Science / Education) Chiefly US and Canadian a graduate of a school, college, etc.

[from Latin: nursling, pupil, foster son, from alere to nourish]

alumnus, alumna, alumni - Alumnus and alumna stem from Latin alere, "to nourish or be nourished," now by a university; originally alumnus was a pupil and now it is a male graduate. Alumni refers to either gender.

A group of people who have graduated from a school or university. Alumni is usually used to refer to a group of graduates of either one or both genders, while ‘alumnus' traditionally refers to a single male graduate, with the feminine term being ‘alumna'.

What is the Definition of the Word Alumni?

Last August, Ann Thomas of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith shared something interesting on the ALUMNI-L listserv. It's a short article from the AO Foundation, a "medically guided non-profit" devoted to educating surgeons. The article discusses the origin and meaning of the word "alumni." When I read it, I realized that in my 19 years in the profession, I had never seen the etymology of the word.

The author of the article, Dr. Antonio Pace, is the president of the Foundation's alumni association in Europe. He tells us that the word alumni is Latin [and] derives from the verb alere, which means 'to bring up,' 'to nourish'...In Latin literature, the term alumnus is used indicate "he who is nourished by a person who is not a natural parent."

In ancient times, Dr. Pace continues, the word referred to abandoned children, who would often be sheltered and raised by foster parents. He adds that the meaning of the term was extended to those persons who receive an intellectual nourishment, like the one people receive at school. Therefore, alumni became the students who are intellectually nourished at school, outside the familiar sphere.

Personally, I like the idea that the institution's relationship to the alumnus is one of "nourishment," which can be the intellectual variety that Dr. Pace mentions. It can also be a more practical educational nourishment, or it can refer to the personal development students ideally experience while enrolled at our institutions.

Meaning of Alumni

A person who has received a degree from a school (high school or college or university)

Classified under:

Nouns denoting people


alumna; alumnus; graduate; grad; alum

Hypernyms ("alumnus" is a kind of...):

bookman; scholar; scholarly person; student (a learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "alumnus"):

Ivy Leaguer (a student or graduate at an Ivy League school)

old boy (a former male pupil of a school)

ALUMNUS (noun)
  The noun ALUMNUS has 1 sense:

1. a person who has received a degree from a school (high school or college or university)

  Familiarity information: ALUMNUS used as a noun is very rare.

Alumnus and Alumni Sentence Examples

  • John has also been honored by the university of chicago as a distinguished alumnus in 2002.

  • American Friends [of Cambridge University] - an alumnus association of former Cambridge University members now in the USA.

  • However, upon termination of such employment, the alumnus will be able to register onto the alumni website.

  • Shortly thereafter, we met up with Tony Robinson, a Keble alumnus who did yeoman work in setting up the dinner.

  • London hosts a number of performing arts schools, some of which boast many famous alumni.

  • Reception for UWS alumni will be held at the Bankers Club, San Francisco, on the evening of October 2 nd.

  • The fourth president of the college was Mark Hopkins, and one of its most distinguished alumni was James A.

  • Alma matters: A guide to alumni relations and their development.

  • The week included two occasions when we invited alumni and ex-staff into school to visit the school.

  • However, we welcome alumni who want to catch up on what 's happening at Castle.

  • Originally established in 1939 to help publish the Aberdeen University Review, the Association helps to keep alumni informed about the University.

  • We are also beginning to think of a date for an alumni reunion in London.

  • The week included two occasions when we invited alumni and ex-staff into school to visit the school.

  • You will work with fellow alumni to establish an active local alumni committee.

  • Would you like to set up a new alumni association or become an alumni contact?

  • The sensus data center substantial subsidy of organizations alumni organizations.

  • Alumnuser, we welcome alumni who want to catch up on what's happening at castle.

  • Please see the section entitled "how to be an alumni ambassador" for fuller comments.

  • You may be able to seek out contacts through your college alumni network.

  • Originally established in 1939 to help publish the Aberdeen University Review, the association helps to keep alumni informed about the university.

  • Informal links with overseas alumni are obviously very numerous.

  • The history of alumni relations at Goldsmiths College began in 1907 with the formation of the Old Students' Association.

  • Many alumni enjoy giving something back to their university.

  • Current benefits include: a copy of our annual alumni magazine.

  • Earlier in the year an alumni reception was held in the headquarters of the united nations.

Definition of ALUMNUS


: a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university


: a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate

See alumnus defined for English-language learners »

See alumnus defined for kids »

Examples of ALUMNUS

Her parents are alumni of the state university.

Origin of ALUMNUS

Latin, foster son, pupil, from alere to nourish — more at old

First Known Use: 1645

Other Education Terms

baccalaureate, colloquium, corequisite, dissertation, monograph, pedant, practicum, survey course, thesis
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