An alumnus (plural alumni), according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a graduate of a school, college, or university."[1] An alumnus can also be a former member, employee, contributor or inmate as well as a former student.[2][3] In addition, an alumna (pl. alumnae) is "a female graduate or former student of a school, college, or university".[4] If a group includes both genders, even if there is only one male, the plural form alumni is used.



The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son, pupil" and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish."[5]


An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university).[1][4] According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges[6] 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 Baylor University.[7]

The term is sometimes shortened to "alum," which stands for "an alumna or alumnus."[8]

"Alumni" (a plural form) is often incorrectly used as a singular form for both genders; for example, "I am an alumni of Texas Tech University," as opposed to "I am an alumnus/alumna of Texas Tech University." This usage is erroneous in formal or historic usage. The prevalence of this usage is likely due to an ignorance of Latin grammar and the fact that printed documents and university merchandise almost always use the plural form of the word.

Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions. They are usually organized by alumni associations and are often social occasions for fundraising.

Related terms

At most UK independent schools, New Zealand schools, Sri Lankan schools, a few universities in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada, the phrases old boy and old girl are traditionally used for former school pupils, and old member or member (or "alumnus" in Australia and New Zealand) for former university students. Some Australian co-educational schools use the gender-neutral old scholar. At the Royal Military College of Canada, the phrases ex-cadet or former cadet and member of the old brigade are traditionally used, as are college numbers. Another example is the term old corps, in reference to alumni from the Virginia Military Institute. Owing to this general restriction of the phrase to schools for the few the phrase is normally associated with the aristocracy of the UK.

The term "Old Boys" is also used as part of many sporting associations and clubs worldwide. Famous examples include Argentine football club Newell's Old Boys and New Zealand rugby union club High School Old Boys RFC.

Some schools use a specific term clearly linked to the school name, such as "Old Etonian," "Old Harrovian," "Old Carthusian," "Old Oswestrian," "Old Churcherian," "Old Knox Grammarian," "Old Colcestrian," or "Old Reptonian" (old boys of Eton College, Harrow School, Charterhouse School, Oswestry School, Churcher's College, Knox Grammar School, Colchester Royal Grammar School and Repton School); or a more obscure one, such as "Old Citizen" and "Old Gregorian" for those of the City of London School and Downside School. Other UK examples include "Old Alleynian" (Dulwich College), "Old Blue" (Christ's Hospital), "Old Dunumian" (Down High School), "Old Novocastrian" (Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne), "Old Mid" (Trinity School of John Whitgift) and "Old Elizabethan" (Queen Elizabeth's Hospital).

In Scotland the term former pupil (FP) is also used, especially when referring to sports teams of a school.

Some US schools, such as Texas A&M University, prefer Former Student.

The World Student Christian Federation uses the term "senior friends" for its alumni.


  1. ^ a b alumnus. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
  2. ^ "Alumni – Definition from the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary". 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" 
  3. ^ "Alumnus – definition of alumnus by Macmillan dictionary". Retrieved 2011-02-15. "Someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university" 
  4. ^ a b alumna. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
  5. ^ Merriam-Webster: alumnus...
  6. ^ "Archived: Women's Colleges in the United States: History, Issues, and Challenges". Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  7. ^ "alumni – Definitions from". Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  8. ^ "alum." Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006. 1 December 2006.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alumnus — • Signifies in ecclesiastical usage, a student preparing for the sacred ministry in a seminary Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Alumnus     Alumnus      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • alumnus — (n.) 1640s, from L. alumnus a pupil, lit. foster son, vestigial present passive participle of alere to nourish (see OLD (Cf. old)), with ending akin to Gk. omenos. Plural is alumni. Fem. is alumna (1882), fem. plural alumnae …   Etymology dictionary

  • Alumnus — A*lum nus, n.; pl. {Alumni}. [L., fr. alere to nourish.] A pupil; especially, a graduate of a college or other seminary of learning. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Alúmnus — (lat.), Kostschüler, Pflegling, Zögling einer Erziehungsanstalt (Alumnat, Internat), der Wohnung, Kost und Unterricht (ganz oder halb frei) erhält; Gegensatz: Stadtschüler (Oppidanus, Extraneer). – Juristisch bezeichnet Alumnat das rein faktische …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • alumnus — (stressed on the second syllable) means a former student or pupil, and comes from a Latin word meaning ‘nursling’. It is more common in AmE than in BrE. The plural form is alumni (pronounced niy) and the female form is alumna (plural alumnae,… …   Modern English usage

  • alumnus — / alumna [n] graduate alum, old grad*, postgraduate; concept 350 …   New thesaurus

  • alumnus — ► NOUN (pl. alumni; fem. alumna, pl. alumnae) ▪ a former pupil or student of a particular school, college, or university. ORIGIN Latin, pupil , from alere nourish …   English terms dictionary

  • alumnus — ☆ alumnus [ə lum′nəs] n. pl. alumni [ə lum′nī΄] [L, a pupil, foster son < alere, to nourish: see OLD ] a person, esp. a boy or man, who has attended or is a graduate of a particular school, college, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Alumnus — Dieser Artikel oder Abschnitt ist nicht hinreichend mit Belegen (Literatur, Webseiten oder Einzelnachweisen) versehen. Die fraglichen Angaben werden daher möglicherweise demnächst gelöscht. Hilf Wikipedia, indem du die Angaben recherchierst und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alúmnus — Dieser Artikel oder Abschnitt ist nicht hinreichend mit Belegen (Literatur, Webseiten oder Einzelnachweisen) versehen. Die fraglichen Angaben werden daher möglicherweise demnächst gelöscht. Hilf Wikipedia, indem du die Angaben recherchierst und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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