Alma mater

Alma Mater statue by Daniel Chester French, 1903, Columbia University, New York City.

Alma mater (Latin: alma mater, lit.'nourishing mother'; pl. [rarely used] almae matres) is an allegorical Latin phrase currently used to identify a school, college or university that one formerly attended or/and graduated from.[1][2][3]

Before its current use, alma mater was an honorific title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele.[4] Later, in Catholicism, it became a title of Mary, mother of Jesus.

The term entered academic use when the University of Bologna adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum ("nurturing mother of studies"), to celebrate the university's historic status as the oldest and longest continuously operating university in the world.[5]

The term is related to alumnus, literally meaning a "nursling" or "one who is nourished", that frequently is used for a graduate.[6]

  1. ^ "alma", Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  2. ^ "Definition of 'Alma mater'". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  3. ^ Ayto, John (2005). Word Origins (2nd ed.). London: A&C Black. ISBN 9781408101605. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  4. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition
  5. ^ "Our history – University of Bologna". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  6. ^ Cresswell, Julia (2010). Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. Oxford University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0199547937. Retrieved 18 May 2015.

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