Saturday, October 26, 2013


“Alumni - What does it mean?”

Alumni associations are common in vintage schools or colleges.

I belong to ‘St Joseph’s College and School Alumni Association’ as well as ‘CMC Alumni Association’. The former is a boys’ school where as the latter is a co education college.

Little did I realize when I searched for the origin of the word that 'alumni' was one of the misused words.

Male Sex

The singular alumnus’ refers to one male graduate.
‘Alumni’ is the pleural noun which refers to a group of male graduates.

Female Sex

‘Alumna’ refers to one female graduate.
‘Alumnae’ refers to a group of female graduates.

So what do you call a group of old graduates consisting of men and women?

If you want to avoid confusion Alum, alums’ would be the easier modern version to refer to a mixed group of males and female graduates. ‘Alumni’ is also used to refer to a group of mixed sexes      (though it is also used for a group of males).

What is erroneous to utter?

NEVER ever say, “I am an alumni of ….….” That ain’t good English! 

You hear this often enough!


Latin noun alumnus means ‘foster son or pupil’ and originates from the verb alere ‘to nourish’.