Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

Date: 28 May 2018
Category: Grammar

Traveled to Connecticut about a week ago to attend a college reunion at Fairfield University where I earned a Bachelor‘s Degree in English many moons ago.

Since it also happened to be graduation weekend at this Jesuit Catholic institution, a “sermon to the class,” called a baccalaureate Mass, was celebrated as part of the reunion agenda. Back in the day, Fairfield was not a coed college, so not a single bachelorette was in attendance with our graduating class.

Since those days are long past, however, the Fairfield Stags are complemented by the lady Stags, or, as the British might call them: Stagettes.

More formally speaking, a university male graduate, or alumnus, is complemented by a female alumna, the plural forms being alumni (for both male and female) and alumnae (female only plural)

In today’s informal “text-speak,” an alum is frequently used to refer to any graduate, alums being the plural form.

Perhaps the only graduate who might prefer not to be called an alum, would be a chemistry major who would recognize that same a-l-u-m spelling as “a colorless astringent compound that is still widely used to purify piped water, in medicine, for cosmetics (in deodorant and antitranspirants), in food preparation (in baking powder and pickling), and to fire-proof paper and cloth. 

BTW, that word is pronounced: alum.

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