Alma mater is a term that is used to refer to the institution in which a person has studied but is now out of. It is an allegorical Latin phrase that is used to identify a school, college, or university that a person may have formerly attended, or graduated from. The phrase is translated literally as fostering mother, nursing mother, or nurturing mother. It can be derived from this that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students.
Before its current use, the term alma mater was a title conferred honorarily for various mother goddesses, especially Cybele and Ceres. Later on in Catholicism, it became the title of Mary, mother of Jesus. The term made its way into academic use when the University of Bologna became known as the oldest and longest continuously operating university in the world. It adopted the motto Alma Mater Studiorum which translates to nurturing mother of studies. The term is related to alumnus, which literally means a nurse or a person who is nourished, which is frequently used for a graduate.
The earliest documented use of the term alma mater to refer to a university in an English-speaking country is in 1600 when the printer of the University of Cambridge, John Legate, began using an emblem for the university press.
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