Definition of alumnus in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈləmnəs/

noun (plural alumni /-nī/ /-nē/)

1A graduate or former student, especially a male one, of a particular school, college, or university: a Harvard alumnus a mixture of news about the University and articles by alumni
1.1A former member of a group, company, or organization: a Royal Ballet alumnus


When used in the singular, alumnus (which is a male form in Latin) generally refers to a male former student, with alumna being the corresponding female term, but the plural alumni can refer to both sexes (the plural form alumnae may be used when referring to two or more female former students). In the US, the shortened form alum is increasingly used in informal contexts to avoid gender-specific terminology altogether.


Mid 17th century: from Latin, 'nursling, pupil', from alere 'nourish'.

  • alma mater from mid 17th century:

    This phrase, used with reference to a university or college once attended, first had the general sense ‘someone or something providing nourishment’; in Latin the literal meaning is ‘bounteous, nourishing mother’. It was a title given by the Romans to several goddesses but in particular to Ceres and Cybele, both representing fostering mother-figures. Alumnus (mid 17th century) is related, being Latin for ‘nursling, pupil’, from alere ‘nourish’, source of alma.

Words that rhyme with alumnus


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: a·lum·nus

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