alum·​nus | \ ə-ˈləm-nəs How to pronounce alumnus (audio) \
plural alumni\ ə-​ˈləm-​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 Chris Heaps, who, like Barto, is an alumni of the Louisville Metro Police Department's gang squad. Joseph Gerth, The Courier-Journal, "Gerth: Police entanglement in 'Three Percenters' group may go beyond Audubon Park," 21 May 2020 Pastor Bill Minson, who was reportedly close friends with Penniman, confirmed the singer was an alumnus of the university. Keyaira Boone, Essence, "Little Richard Will Be Buried At Historically Black Oakwood University," 18 May 2020 Little Richard’s close friend Pastor Bill Minson said the singer was an alumnus of the university. USA TODAY, "Little Richard to be buried at Oakwood University, a historically black university in Alabama," 16 May 2020 Andrew Cullen for The New York Times BuzzFeed News has a new editor in chief: Mark Schoofs, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is an alumnus of the site, having created its investigations unit in 2014. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "BuzzFeed News Has a New Editor in Chief," 5 May 2020 Key founding members of Respawn are alumni of Infinity Ward, a studio famous for its work on the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series. Gene Park, Washington Post, "Titanfall fans should get excited for the future of Apex Legends, says Respawn," 4 Feb. 2020 Sloane, the founder of Century Bank who died in April at the age of 92, was not an alumnus., "Veolia’s North American operations," 5 Nov. 2019 Hader, who was an SNL cast member from 2005-13, is the third alumnus of that show to win multiple Emmys for a lead role in a sitcom. Paul Grein, Billboard, "12 Records That Were Set at the 2019 Emmy Awards," 23 Sep. 2019 The couple are alumni of UConn’s School of Engineering and School of Fine Arts, respectively. Slade Rand,, "UConn fine arts and engineering schools welcome $5M donation, launch new partnership," 12 Sep. 2019

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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alumnus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for alumnus


How to pronounce alumnus (audio)

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

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