Alumni of St Catharine's College, Cambridge
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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 A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languag ...
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 ...
''alumnus'' means "foster son" or "pupil". It is derived from PIE ''*h₂el-'' (grow, nourish), and is closely related to the Latin
verb A verb () is a word 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 ...
''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 legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, i ...
) 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, 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 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 Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a pie ...
, 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 ...
, 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 ...
.


See also

* :Alumni by educational institution


References


Bibliography

*


External links

* {{Authority control Academic terminology