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false alarm

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noun

a false report of a fire in progress to a fire department.
something that excites unfounded alarm or expectation: Rumors of an impending transit strike proved to be a false alarm.

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Origin of false alarm

First recorded in 1570–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for false alarm

false alarm

noun

a needless alarm given in error or with intent to deceive
an occasion on which danger is perceived but fails to materialize
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

Idioms and Phrases with false alarm

false alarm

A warning signal that is groundless, made either by mistake or as a deliberate deception. For example, The rumor that we were all going to get fired was just a false alarm, or Setting off a false alarm is a criminal offense. This expression, first recorded in 1579, today is often used for a report of a nonexistent fire.

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