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Alma mater (Latin: "nourishing mother"), pronounced (UK), (US), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Medieval Christianity for the Virgin Mary. In modern times, it is often a school, college, or university attended during one's formative years, which is usually interpreted to mean from where one earned one's first degree or doctorate, or both.

The term may also refer to a song or hymn associated with a university or college.

The expression is rarely used other than in the singular, but if required the Latin plural is almae matres.

On the campus of Columbia University on the steps of Low Librarymarker there is a well known bronze statue of Alma Mater by Daniel Chester French. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker also has an Alma Matermarker statue.

The University of Bolognamarker adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum (meaning "Nourishing Mother of Studies") in 2000.

See also


  1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition
  2. Definition of alma mater
  3. Definition of alma mater at Merriam-Webster Online
  4. University of Bologna

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