View synonyms for alarm


[ uh-lahrm ]


  1. a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger; apprehension; fright.

    Synonyms: panic, terror, consternation

  2. 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.

  3. an automatic device that serves to call attention, to rouse from sleep, or to warn of fire, smoke, an intruder, etc.
  4. a warning sound; signal for attention.
  5. Animal Behavior. any sound, outcry, chemical discharge, action, or other signal that functions to draw attention to a potential predator.
  6. Fencing. an appeal or a challenge made by a step or stamp on the ground with the advancing foot.
  7. Archaic. a call to arms.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make fearful or apprehensive; distress.
  2. to warn of danger; rouse to vigilance and swift measures for safety.
  3. to fit or equip with an alarm or alarms, as for fire, smoke, or robbery:

    to alarm one's house and garage.


/ əˈlɑːm /


  1. to fill with apprehension, anxiety, or fear
  2. to warn about danger; alert
  3. to fit or activate a burglar alarm on a house, car, etc


  1. fear or terror aroused by awareness of danger; fright
  2. apprehension or uneasiness

    the idea of failing filled him with alarm

  3. a noise, signal, etc, warning of danger
  4. any device that transmits such a warning

    a burglar alarm

    1. the device in an alarm clock that triggers off the bell or buzzer
    2. short for alarm clock
  5. archaic.
    a call to arms
  6. fencing a warning or challenge made by stamping the front foot

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Derived Forms

  • aˈlarming, adjective
  • aˈlarmingly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • a·larma·ble adjective
  • a·larm·ed·ly [uh, -, lahr, -mid-lee], adverb
  • prea·larm verb (used with object) noun
  • una·larmed adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of alarm1

1350–1400; Middle English alarme, alarom < Middle French < Old Italian allarme, noun from phrase all'arme to (the) arms. See arm 2

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Word History and Origins

Origin of alarm1

C14: from Old French alarme, from Old Italian all'arme to arms; see arm ²

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Idioms and Phrases

see false alarm .

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Synonym Study

See fear. See frighten.

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Example Sentences

The Ring Car Alarm, which will cost $60, is Amazon’s take on the traditional car alarm, and it comes with features like location tracking so people can remember where they parked.

From Fortune

After setup, the drone can be asked to fly directly, or it can fly on its own to visit disturbances detected by Ring alarm systems.

Other Fed officials have also sounded the alarm in recent days.

Those early immune defenses, which set off alarm bells for the body to go on the attack no matter what the invader, may be weaker in older adults.

Hospital and other local officials on both sides of the border raised the alarm that the border itself was facilitating the spread.

On Christmas Day, sometime after dark, a hideous fire overtook the venue: 100 firefighters, 33 fire trucks, a four-alarm blaze.

The airline industry objects that sometimes these deployable recorders can pop out without cause, spreading needless 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.

If the idea of a religious vigilante ambushing sex workers in his spare time sets off alarm bells, it probably should.

Brown was still sounding the alarm about one particular firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, when he was arrested on September 12, 2012.

Some of the alarm returned, however, when the creature attempted to climb up by his own ladder.

There is cause for alarm when they bring one hundred and ten ships into these seas without any means of resistance on our part.

Her face wore a look of distress, almost of alarm; she kept her place, but her eyes gave Bernard a mute welcome.

The public eye, ever watchful and timid, waits scarcely for the show of danger to take alarm and withdraw its favour.

Some of the soldiers secured the porter from creating an alarm; and the rest filling the hall, fastened the door.


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More About Alarm

What does alarm mean?

Alarm is a sudden feeling of fear or suspense caused by an awareness of danger, as in The pirates boarding the ship filled the captain with alarm.

An alarm is any sound or cry that is meant to alert someone. It can also be the device that produces the alarm, such as an alarm clock. Sounding the alarm means to activate a siren, bell, or a repeated verbal call, usually projected from a speaker of some kind.

To alarm someone is to make them fearful or distressed, as in My parents alarmed me when they started talking about moving south.

To alarm also means to warn someone about danger.

Example: Not to alarm you, but I feel like I might need to go to the emergency room.

Where does alarm come from?

The first records of the term alarm come from the 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Old Italian all’arme, meaning “to arms,” with arms referring to weapons.

Alarms meant to be a reminder to go to an event usually don’t cause alarm in the sense of fear—unless you’re late. Most often, these types of alarms cause you to become alert and aware of something that is needed, similar to how people experiencing alarm become aware of danger.

One use of alarm you might not be familiar with is a certificate of alarm, which is a document that is certified by a home security company and sent to an insurance company to confirm that a house is secured. People with home security systems should pursue a certificate of alarm in order to get a discount on their insurance cost.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to alarm?

  • alarmable (adjective)
  • alarmedly (adverb)
  • alarming (verb, adjective)
  • unalarmed (adjective)

What are some synonyms for alarm?

What are some words that share a root or word element with alarm

What are some words that often get used in discussing alarm?

How is alarm used in real life?

Alarms on phones and clocks are a common way to remind yourself about something.


Try using alarm!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for alarm?

A. aloof
B. alert
C. signal
D. warning

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




à la rigueuralarm clock