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I was wondering whether alma mater refers to all the schools you have been in, or just to college.

For example, suppose someone has an undergranduate degree from one institution, a masters degree from another, and a PhD from yet a third; would all three of those count as his alma mater?

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Foster Mother. From Latin. –  John Lawler Jan 10 '13 at 0:28
    
ok, but how is it used nowadays? –  Khromonkey Jan 10 '13 at 0:29
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@JohnLawler: Yes, but in the sense of "feeding", not necessarily "adoptive". –  Cerberus Jan 10 '13 at 0:55
    
MW: a school (as a college or university) which one has attended and usually from which one has graduated. –  Gnawme Jan 10 '13 at 1:14
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closed as general reference by John Lawler, Gnawme, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, MετάEd, tchrist Jan 10 '13 at 7:22

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It is normally only used for a college or university, not for a high school; the last would sound a bit silly and pretentious. However, silly and pretentious can be humorous, so talking about your primary school as your alma mater can be appropriate if you are being ironic.

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This is becoming a relatively common practice on Monday Night Football here in the U.S. They have a tradition of "introducing" each team's starters with a video snippet, where the player states his name and alma mater (e.g., "Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois University"). Some time back, a few players started saying the names of their high school instead (e.g., "Andy Dalton, Katy High School"). As that practice was copied more and more, a few players took it one step further in the humor department; I've heard some players say the likes of, "John Smith, Westover Elementary." –  J.R. Jan 10 '13 at 10:46
    
@J.R.: Hah, that's great! Next will be kindergartens... –  Cerberus Jan 10 '13 at 15:38
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It is usually used to describe a school or college from which an individual has graduated or which they have attended.

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