Close this search box.

The Differences in Alum, Alumni, Alumnus, and Alumnae

There is perhaps no more commonly used Latinate term in modern society than alumni and its variants. Unless you are incredibly well-versed in the dead language of the Romans.

Graphic illustrating the differences and usage of "alumus", "alumni", "alum", "alumna", and "alumnae".

Masculine and Feminine, Singular and Plural

Here is a topline explanation with this group of Latin nouns:

  • A male graduate of an institution is an alumnus (masculine singular).
  • Multiple male graduates are alumni (masculine plural).
  • A female graduate of an institution is an alumna (feminine singular).
  • Multiple female graduates are alumnae (feminine plural).
  • For a group of multiple graduates that includes both males and females, you would default to

That is the breakdown of proper Latin variants for the noun. Its usage on contemporary campuses is another matter altogether.

Alumni on Campus

Most higher education institutions have an Office of Alumni Affairs. This department maintains communication with former students and holds events and programming.

Often, these offices default to the masculine form: alumnus and alumni. This choice is meant to simplify their wording to avoid confusion. On the other hand, many all-woman institutions like Smith College have an Office of Alumnae. It makes sense for them to default to 100% feminine nouns when discussing former students.

What is Alum?

You often hear people refer to alums in discussions of former students.

The terms alum and alums are informal. They are perfectly fine for day-to-day conversation, but you should not use them in formal writing. Always write out the correct form the full Latin expression with writing about alumni (or alumnae).

Further reading:

What Is The Meaning Of “Ad Nauseam?”

Criteria vs Criterion: What Is Difference?

Everything about Etc. (Et Cetera)

Want to sharpen your business writing skills? Discover our acclaimed online courses at

Posted by Avatar photo
By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal, and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It, and Article Valley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *