Alumnus

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The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son" or "pupil" and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish". B Pictured: Lorado Taft's Alma Mater in Illinois. Alma Mater Restored 2014.jpg
The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son" or "pupil" and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish". B Pictured: Lorado Taft's Alma Mater in Illinois.

An alumnus ( Latin pronunciation:  [aˈlʊmnʊs] ; masculine) or an alumna ( [aˈlʊmna] ; 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 [aˈlʊmniː] for men and mixed groups and alumnae [aˈlʊmnae̯] for women. The term is not synonymous with "graduate"; one can be an alumnus without graduating (Burt Reynolds, alumnus but not graduate of Florida State, is an example). The term is sometimes used to refer to a former employee or member of an organization, contributor, or inmate. [1] [2] [3]

Contents

Etymology

The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son" or "pupil". It is derived from PIE *h₂el- (grow, nourish), and is closely related to the Latin verb alo "to nourish". [4] Separate, but from the same root, is the adjective 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) to describe a child placed in fosterage. [5] According to John Boswell, the word "is nowhere defined in relation to status, privilege, or obligation." [6] Citing the research of Henri Leclercq, Teresa Nani, and Beryl Rawson, 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." [7]

Usage

An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university). [8] According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges [9] or a female group of students. The term alumni is used in conjunction with either men's colleges, 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 masculine plural alumni is correctly used for groups composed of both sexes: the alumni of Princeton University. [10]

The term is sometimes informally shortened to "alum" (optional plural "alums"). [11]

Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions. They are usually organized by alumni associations and are often social occasions for fundraising.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Alma mater School or university that a person has attended

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Alumni association

An alumni association or alumnae association is an association of graduates or, more broadly, of former students (alumni). It is sometimes called an "alumni meet." In the United Kingdom and the United States, alumni of universities, colleges, schools, fraternities, and sororities often form groups with alumni from the same organization. These associations often organize social events, publish newsletters or magazines, and raise funds for the organization. Many provide a variety of benefits and services that help alumni maintain connections to their educational institution and fellow graduates. In the US, most associations do not require its members to be an alumnus of a university to enjoy membership and privileges.

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References

  1. "The State Of Corporate Alumni : 2017 Survey Results". EnterpriseAlumni - Large Organization Alumni & Retiree Management. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  2. "Alumni – Definition from the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 1: A person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university. 2: a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate
  3. "Alumnus – definition of alumnus by Macmillan dictionary". Macmillandictionary.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15. Someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university
  4. Merriam-Webster: alumnus...
  5. For example, Digest 40, 2, 14
  6. Boswell 1988, pp. 116.
  7. Boswell 1988, pp. 117–119.
  8. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  9. "Archived: Women's Colleges in the United States: History, Issues, and Challenges". Ed.gov. Archived from the original on 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
  10. "alumni – Definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
  11. "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

Bibliography