[ uh-lahrm ]
/ əˈlɑrm /
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See synonyms for: alarm / alarmed / alarming / alarmable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
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Origin of alarm

1350–1400; Middle English alarme, alarom<Middle French <Old Italian allarme, noun from phrase all'arme to (the) arms. See arm2

synonym study for alarm

1. See fear. 8. See frighten.


a·larm·a·ble, adjectivea·larm·ed·ly [uh-lahr-mid-lee], /əˈlɑr mɪd li/, adverbpre·a·larm, verb (used with object), nounun·a·larmed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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

How to use alarm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for alarm

/ (əˈlɑːm) /

verb (tr)

Derived forms of alarm

alarming, adjectivealarmingly, adverb

Word Origin for alarm

C14: from Old French alarme, from Old Italian all'arme to arms; see arm ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with alarm


see false alarm.

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