One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A graduate or former student, especially a male one, of a particular school, college, or university.‘a Harvard alumnus’‘a mixture of news about the University and articles by alumni’
- 1.1 A former member of a group, company, or organization.‘a Royal Ballet alumnus’
- 1.1 A former member of a group, company, or organization.
When used in the singular, alumnus (which is a male form in Latin) generally refers to a male former student, with alumna being the corresponding female term, but the plural alumni can refer to both sexes (the plural form alumnae may be used when referring to two or more female former students). In the US, the shortened form alum is increasingly used in informal contexts to avoid gender-specific terminology altogether
Mid 17th century: from Latin, ‘nursling, pupil’, from alere ‘nourish’.
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