1.I read in a grammar book that the gender neutral word for alumna/alumnus is "alum", but I couldn't find the word anywhere else.The word alum also means-a specific chemical compound.So is the usage of "alum" common enough for me to use it?

2.Can someone suggest me a gender neutral word for air hostess?

  1. "Alum" is the singular, gender-neutral term for someone who has graduated from an educational institution. It is used more commonly than alumna or alumnus. Alumni is the plural form.

  2. "Flight attendant" is the appropriate gender-neutral term.

  • How is the word "alum" pronounced? – asterisk Jul 15 '14 at 20:17
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    It's pronounced "ah-lum" with stress on the "lum." – Obfuskater Jul 15 '14 at 20:19
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    Note that "alum" is informal: it's slang, although fairly well accepted slang. – Ben Kovitz Dec 13 '14 at 22:32
  • Can you provide a citation for "more commonly"? – Nathan Tuggy Nov 3 '15 at 0:02

I never took Latin, but if I read it correctly, my dictionary seems to suggest "alumnum" as a neutral noun. It came up when a friend who identifies as gender neutral wanted to use the plural "alumni." Thoughts?

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    I just looked it up and found that alumnum really is the Latin neuter form, but the term doesn't seem to exist in English. The OED has no record of it. So, if you said it in English, you'd risk the embarrassment of trying to say a big word and getting it wrong. (Is there a word for that?) On the other hand, it might be possible to establish the word as legitimate, just by using it. – Ben Kovitz Dec 13 '14 at 22:43
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    But back on the first hand, deliberately extending the language is surely way too advanced for people still learning English. – Ben Kovitz Dec 13 '14 at 22:47

There is no neuter (gender-neutral) form of the noun alumnus/a, only masculine and feminine forms. "Alumnus" is an individual male graduate and "alumna" is an individual female graduate. A group of male graduates are "alumni," and a group of female graduates are "alumnae."

For a group of graduates comprised of both men and women (which is what I think the question is attempting to determine), the masculine plural "alumni" is used. Hence, schools have alumni organizations, alumni events, etc.

There is no such word as "alum," although I've seen people use it. The word probably started as someone's misguided effort to employ a gender-neutral term because he was unaware of the applicability of "alumni" to mixed-gender groups.

"Alumnum" is the neuter form of the adjective alumnus ("fostered" or "nurtured"), not the noun alumnus that is the focus of the question above.

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