alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs How to pronounce alumnus (audio) \
plural alumni\ -​ˌnī How to pronounce alumni (audio) \

Definition of alumnus

1 : a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university an alumnus of Columbia University usually used of a man in the singular but often of men and women in the plural
2 : a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate a Saturday Night Live alumnus

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Alumnus or Alumna?

Many people are comfortable using the word alumni to refer to someone who was a student of a particular school. However, others feel quite strongly that this is an error and that the following forms should be used: alumnus (for one male), alumni (for multiple males, or for a mix of males and females), alumna (for one female), and alumnae (for multiple females). The shortened form alum and its plural form alums began to be used in the 19th century. Initially, alum was widely viewed as highly colloquial or informal, but is increasing in use as a gender-neutral alternative.

Examples of alumnus in a Sentence

Her parents are alumni of the state university.

Recent Examples on the Web

Further, Tronc has created a scholarship fund for journalism students at the University of Maryland in College Park, where Mr. Fischman and Mr. McNamara were alumni and where Mr. Hiaasen taught. Jaclyn Peiser, New York Times, "A Moment of Silence and Reporting Help for The Capital Gazette," 5 July 2018 With Maryland on the brink of naming Kevin Anderson’s successor as athletic director, there has been much discussion in recent days among fans, alumni and coaches regarding the candidacy of the three men who were interviewed last week for the job. Don Markus,, "Assessing the pros and cons of Maryland's athletic director candidates," 25 June 2018 Hextall was criticized for refusing to listen to scouts and advisers and had been accused of cutting off alumni from access to the team. Dan Gelston, The Seattle Times, "Flyers eye new approach in GM, unlike ‘unyielding’ Hextall," 27 Nov. 2018 A day earlier, alumni from Ford's high school, Holton-Arms, held a press conference with Sens. Lauren Lee, Fox News, "Women rally in support of Kavanaugh: 'We know the man, we know his heart'," 21 Sep. 2018 As the news of Phelps’ sudden passing spread on Facebook, tributes from grieving Trinity parents, alumni, teachers and staff began appearing on the school’s Facebook page. Lisa Peklo, Howard County Times, "Trinity School remembers Sister Catherine Phelps," 6 July 2018 According to Newsweek, alumni from the school created a petition calling for Aitchison’s resignation. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Toronto Principal Transferred After Being Accused of Racially Profiling Students With ‘Black List’," 30 June 2018 But the result has been that New York, in essence, has replaced tracking within schools with tracking by school, where children with the best records can benefit from advanced classes and active parent and alumni associations. New York Times, "A Shadow System of Tracking by School Feeds Segregation," 17 June 2018 Students, staff, parents and alumni of Morley Elementary School will celebrate 90 years of educating students at the Bretton Road building this week. Mikaela Porter, Courant Community, "Morley School's 90 Years: A Look Through The Hartford Courant Archives," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alumnus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alumnus

1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alumnus

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

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Statistics for alumnus

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for alumnus

The first known use of alumnus was in 1645

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More Definitions for alumnus



English Language Learners Definition of alumnus

chiefly US : someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university


alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs How to pronounce alumnus (audio) \
plural alumni\ -​ˌnī \

Kids Definition of alumnus

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on alumnus

Spanish Central: Translation of alumnus

Nglish: Translation of alumnus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alumnus for Arabic Speakers

Comments on alumnus

What made you want to look up alumnus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of returning to life

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