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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A male graduate or former student of a school, college, or university.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a male pupil or student
  • n. a male graduate
  • n. a student
  • n. a graduate

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A pupil; especially, a graduate of a college or other seminary of learning.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pupil; one educated at a school, seminary, college, or university; specifically, a graduate of any such institution.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who has received a degree from a school (high school or college or university)


Latin, pupil, from alere, to nourish; see al-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowed from Latin alumnus (literally "foster child, nourished one"). (Wiktionary)



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  • You could start a list now, and whenever we find one we'll tell you and you'll decide what to do.

    April 20, 2009

  • I've considered tagging or listing them, but I think it's too late; it'd require going through over a thousand comments and deciding which were significantly etymological in nature.

    April 20, 2009

  • Qroqqa, do you have a list for these words where you contemplate their etymology?

    April 20, 2009

  • Wondering about the etymology of this, I found it originally meant "foster-child", with the familiar Latin al- "nourish" of 'aliment', but the unrecognizable part was a suffix related to the Greek passive participle suffix -omenos, not normally used in Latin.

    Then I was surprised to learn that 'old' is related, as are 'altitude', 'alma mater' ("nourishing/bounteous mother"), and probably 'adult' and 'proletariat'.

    The Germanic 'old' is from a past participle of that same root al- "nourish, raise", and is thus formally equivalent to Latin altus. The Latin however shifted from "grown up" to "high, tall" generally to "distant from the surface, i.e. high, tall, deep".

    Ad-ul-tus and pro-l-es ("class who contribute offspring") might also contain the al- root internally.

    April 20, 2009