alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs \
plural alumni\ -​ˌnī \

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

Last year, alumni and parents protested a policy at Great Hearts Academies charter schools thatrequired students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificate. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Arizona groups offer health, housing help to LGBT youth," 14 July 2018 Fans, alumni and donors crowded into the spaces eager to mingle with the university’s top coaches. Kelli Stacy,, "Historically Low Attendance At UConn Men's Basketball, Football Games As Programs Try To Rebuild," 10 July 2018 The race will begin at 5 p.m. Runners will also be treated to live music and appearances by Patriots alumni and cheerleaders. Jenna West,, "Gillette Stadium to Host Marathon Inside for Charity," 6 July 2018 Hancock, one of the Monuments Men who recovered artworks looted by the Nazis, was a PAFA alumnus and later chaired the school’s sculpture department. Stephan Salisbury,, "PAFA acquires California press' prints by African American artists," 5 July 2018 On Wednesday, the Free Press revealed that Engler changed the focus of the alumni magazine to positive coverage of the Nassar scandal. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Two Michigan State trustees fail in effort to fire John Engler," 22 June 2018 An alumnus of the University of Oregon, Knight has become the school’s most prominent donor, giving almost $1 billion to the university since 1994. Sean Illing, Vox, "How corporate cash bought higher education," 14 Nov. 2018 Both of Maggie’s parents are alumni of the Air Force Academy, which Maggie also hopes to attend, according to ABC. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "The Teen Pilot Who Made a Solo Emergency Landing Says She "Panicked a Little" After Losing a Plane Wheel," 12 Sep. 2018 Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill helped craft a letter to Senate leaders, signed by alumni of Georgetown Preparatory School, supporting U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Arizona Cardinals president’s support for Kavanaugh draws accusations of a double standard in the sports world," 10 July 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

21 Jan 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

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


alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs \
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

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a complex dispute or argument

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