- a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger; apprehension; fright.
- any sound, outcry, or information intended to warn of approaching danger: Paul Revere raced through the countryside raising the alarm that the British were coming.
- an automatic device that serves to call attention, to rouse from sleep, or to warn of fire, smoke, an intruder, etc.
- a warning sound; signal for attention.
- Animal Behavior. any sound, outcry, chemical discharge, action, or other signal that functions to draw attention to a potential predator.
- Fencing. an appeal or a challenge made by a step or stamp on the ground with the advancing foot.
- Archaic. a call to arms.
- to make fearful or apprehensive; distress.
- to warn of danger; rouse to vigilance and swift measures for safety.
- to fit or equip with an alarm or alarms, as for fire, smoke, or robbery: to alarm one's house and garage.
Origin of alarm
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for alarm
Truth be told, there is no one better at capturing the agony and alarm of a woman in the throes of a nervous breakdown than Moore.Julianne Moore Is Oscar Gold in ‘Still Alice’
December 24, 2014
If the idea of a religious vigilante ambushing sex workers in his spare time sets off alarm bells, it probably should.To Catch a Sex Worker: A&E’s Awful, Exploitative Ambush Show
December 19, 2014
Brown was still sounding the alarm about one particular firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, when he was arrested on September 12, 2012.Sentencing Looms for Barrett Brown, Advocate for “Anonymous”
Kevin M. Gallagher
December 15, 2014
To turn it down, would have set off alarm bells to her family.Don Lemon and the Rest of Society Don’t Understand How Rape Works
November 19, 2014
But that the CNN-John King blunder even happened is a cause for alarm.‘Newsroom’ Premiere: Aaron Sorkin Puts CNN on Blast Over the Boston Bombing
November 10, 2014
"I'd rather keep it, if it's the same to you," said Paul, in alarm.
She had begun to pull away in alarm when he seized her wrist.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
But Mr. Paine assured her that letters were likely to be irregular, and there was no ground for alarm.
"You alarm me, dear young friend," continued the good minister.
He turned and ran to the camp, shouting an alarm at the top of his voice.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
- to fill with apprehension, anxiety, or fear
- to warn about danger; alert
- to fit or activate a burglar alarm on a house, car, etc
- fear or terror aroused by awareness of danger; fright
- apprehension or uneasinessthe idea of failing filled him with alarm
- a noise, signal, etc, warning of danger
- any device that transmits such a warninga burglar alarm
- the device in an alarm clock that triggers off the bell or buzzer
- short for alarm clock
- archaic a call to arms
- fencing a warning or challenge made by stamping the front foot
Word Origin and History for alarm
early 14c., from Old French alarme (14c.), from Italian all'arme "to arms!" (literally "to the arms"). An interjection that came to be used as the word for the call or warning (cf. alert). Extended 16c. to "any sound to warn of danger or to arouse." Weakened sense of "apprehension, unease" is from 1833. Variant alarum is due to the rolling -r- in the vocalized form. Sometimes in early years anglicized as all-arm. Alarm clock is attested from 1690s (as A Larum clock).
Idioms and Phrases with alarm
see false alarm.