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An alumnus (; masculine) or an alumna (; feminine) of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has either attended or graduated in some fashion from the institution. The word is Latin and simply means ''student''. The plural is alumni for men and mixed groups and alumnae for women. The term is not synonymous with "graduate"; one can be an alumnus without graduating (
Burt Reynolds Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. (February 11, 1936 – September 6, 2018) was an American actor, director, and producer of film and television, considered a sex symbol A sex symbol is a person or character widely considered sexually attracti ...
, alumnus but not graduate of
Florida State Florida State University (Florida State or FSU) is a public university, public research university in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous ...
, is an example). The term is sometimes used to refer to a former employee or member of an organization, contributor, or inmate.


Etymology

The
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
''alumnus'' means "foster son" or "pupil". It is derived from
PIE A pie is a baked Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of foods are baked. Heat is grad ...

PIE
''*h₂el-'' (grow, nourish), and is closely related to the Latin
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual description of E ...
''alo'' "to nourish".Merriam-Webster: alumnus
..
Separate, but from the same root, is the
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
''almus'' "nourishing", found in the phrase ''Alma Mater'', a title for a person's home university. In Latin, ''alumnus'' is a legal term (
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
) to describe a child placed in
fosterage Fosterage, the practice of a family bringing up a child not their own, differs from adoption Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting Parenting or child rearing promotes and supports the physical Physical may refer to: ...
. According to
John Boswell John Eastburn Boswell (March 20, 1947December 24, 1994) was an American historian and a full professor at Yale University Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third s ...
, the word "is nowhere defined in relation to status, privilege, or obligation." Citing the research of
Henri Leclercq Henri Leclercq (4 December 1869 – 23 March 1945) was a French Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek langua ...
,
Teresa Nani Teresa (also Theresa, Therese; french: Thérèse) is a feminine given name. It originates in the Iberian Peninsula in late antiquity. Its derivation is uncertain, it may be derived from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anyth ...
, and
Beryl Rawson Beryl Rawson (née Wilkinson; 24 July 1933 – 22 October 2010) was an Australian academic. She was Professor and Visiting Fellow in Classics at the Faculty of Arts of the Australian National University The Australian National University ...
, who studied the many inscriptions about ''alumni,'' Boswell concluded that it referred to
exposed children EXPOSE is a multi-user facility mounted outside the International Space Station dedicated to astrobiology. EXPOSE was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for Spaceflight, long-term spaceflights and was designed to allow exposure of chemica ...
who were taken into a household where they were "regarded as somewhere between an heir and a slave, partaking in different ways of both categories." Despite the warmth of feelings between the parent and child, "an ''alumnus'' might be treated both as a beloved child and as a household servant."


Usage

An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university).''The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language''
/ref> According to the
United States Department of Education The United States Department of Education (sometimes shortened to the ED, ED or DoEd) is a United States Cabinet, Cabinet-level department of the federal government of the United States, United States government. It began operating on May 4, 198 ...
, the term ''alumnae'' is used in conjunction with either
women's colleges Women's colleges in higher education Higher education is tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating l ...
or a female group of students. The term ''alumni'' is used in conjunction with either
men's colleges In higher education Higher education is tertiary education Tertiary education, also referred to as third-level, third-stage or post-secondary education, is the education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the ac ...
, 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 Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
, the masculine plural alumni is correctly used for groups composed of both sexes: ''the alumni of Princeton University''.
The term is sometimes informally shortened to "alum" (optional plural "alums")."alum." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Based on the ''Random House Unabridged Dictionary'', © Random House, Inc. 2006. 1 December 2006. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alum Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions. They are usually organized by
alumni association An alumni association or alumnae association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumni An alumnus (; masculine) or an alumna (; feminine) of a college, university, or other school is a former student who has ...
s and are often social occasions for
fundraising Fundraising or fund-raising is the process of seeking and gathering voluntary financial contributions by engaging individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies. Although fundraising typically refers to efforts to gathe ...

fundraising
.


See also

* :Alumni by educational institution


References


Bibliography

*


External links

* {{Authority control Academic terminology