alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs How to pronounce alumnus (audio) \
plural alumni\ ə-​ˈləm-​ˌnī How to pronounce alumnus (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 Leslie Fuenffinger, a Hibbing native and two-time NCAA champ at Augsburg, pinned Sam Jones in the 60 kg class, while heavyweight Donny Longendyke, an Augsburg alumnus from Vadnais Heights, fell 3-1 to Jacob Mitchell. Rachel Blount, Star Tribune, "Minnesotans stumble in Greco-Roman Olympic wrestling trials," 3 Apr. 2021 David McCluskey, a former state legislator and alumnus of St. Brigid, predicted the project will be good for all of West Hartford. Don Stacom,, "West Hartford looks to create $6 million community services hub in Elmwood at former St. Brigid site," 25 Mar. 2021 My colleague and Fordham alumnus, Darryl Brown, has been singing the praises of this compassionate leader for many years. Laurel Donnellan, Forbes, "Addressing Racial Injustice By Loving, Listening, Learning, And Leading," 27 Feb. 2021 Tyler’s gift is the largest private donation from an alumnus in the history of the university, and is believed to be the largest alumni contribution to any Historically Black College or University. Liz Bowie,, "A Morgan State University alumnus couldn’t afford to finish his degree. He’s giving $20 million to make sure others can.," 22 Feb. 2021 The Bills also parted with an Auburn alumnus in advance of Sunday’s game. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Prince Tega Wanogho in line to make his NFL debut on Sunday night," 3 Jan. 2021 Rudolph is, of course, an SNL alumnus as well as an Emmy Award winner for her recurring guest role as Vice-President Kamala Harris. Charu Sinha, Vulture, "Maya Rudolph to Host SNL on March 27," 28 Feb. 2021 Shapira’s reporting about the mistreatment of black cadets at VMI prompted Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a VMI alumnus, to order an investigation. Washington Post, "The Washington Post wins four George Polk Awards for coverage of VMI, George Floyd, politics, pandemic," 24 Feb. 2021 Although a Goldman Sachs alumnus, among other consultant jobs and fellowships, including at CAP, Sperling boasts liberal bona fides. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden to tap OMB prospect to lead spending package implementation," 15 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for alumnus

Time Traveler

The first known use of alumnus was in 1645

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Statistics for alumnus

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alumnus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on alumnus

Nglish: Translation of alumnus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alumnus for Arabic Speakers

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