\ ə-ˈlärm How to pronounce alarm (audio) \
variants: or less commonly alarum \ ə-​ˈlär-​əm How to pronounce alarm (audio) also  -​ˈler-​ How to pronounce alarm (audio) ; -​ˈla-​rəm \

Definition of alarm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 usually alarum, archaic : a call to arms … the angry trumpet sounds alarum— William Shakespeare
2 : a signal (such as a loud noise or flashing light) that warns or alerts also : a device that signals set the alarm to wake me at seven
3 : sudden sharp apprehension and fear resulting from the perception of imminent danger
4 : a warning notice


variants: or less commonly alarum
alarmed also alarumed; alarming also alaruming; alarms also alarums

Definition of alarm (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to strike with fear
3 : to give warning to
4 : to equip with an alarm

Choose the Right Synonym for alarm


fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, trepidation mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage. fear of the unknown dread usually adds the idea of intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety. faced the meeting with dread fright implies the shock of sudden, startling fear. fright at being awakened suddenly alarm suggests a sudden and intense awareness of immediate danger. view the situation with alarm panic implies unreasoning and overmastering fear causing hysterical activity. the news caused widespread panic terror implies the most extreme degree of fear. immobilized with terror trepidation adds to dread the implications of timidity, trembling, and hesitation. raised the subject with trepidation

Did you know?

Today we usually think of an alarm as a loud noise that awakens us or warns us of danger. Its first use, however, was in Italy as a call to arms to soldiers. The Italian phrase all’arme! means literally “to arms” or “to your weapons.” The call was borrowed into other languages and came to be shortened to alarme in early French and Middle English. The word also came to be used as the name for the cry, then for any warning, and then to any device used to sound a warning, such as a bell or a gun. Since an alarm can cause fright or worry, such feelings also came to be known as alarm. By the 17th century, the word was used as a verb, meaning “to warn of danger” and then “to frighten.”

Examples of alarm in a Sentence

Noun The alarm went off when he opened the door. The whole town heard the alarm. She set the alarm for six o'clock. The alarm went off at six o'clock. The rumors caused widespread alarm and concern. His parents have expressed alarm about his safety. The new developments are being viewed with alarm. She looked around in alarm when she heard the noise. The dog's barking gave the alarm and the intruders were caught. A passerby saw the intruders and raised the alarm. Verb I didn't mean to alarm you. The rapid spread of the disease has alarmed many people. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But even without the shadow of Mussolini, Meloni’s nationalistic view would be cause for alarm. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2022 Diana Bianchi, the director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded Edelman’s research, said getting a significantly late period after vaccination is not necessarily cause for alarm. Amanda Morris, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Sep. 2022 Likewise, Shaw said the new information is not a major cause for alarm, especially in earthquake-prone California. Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2022 Though the documents are redacted, the agents and investigators seem to conclude there was no cause for alarm, despite the extensive monitoring. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, 11 Sep. 2022 Your scarlet skin on its own is no cause for alarm. Jenny Sugar, Outside Online, 26 Aug. 2022 If the bump is still present after more than two weeks, that's no cause for alarm. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2022 Neither of those changes to the color of the copper sink is cause for alarm; changes to the patina do not indicate that the sink is damaged. Jolie Kerr, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Aug. 2022 While there is no cause for alarm at the moment, the emergence of this virus is a reminder that there are a lot of pathogens carried by animals, and that some of them can and do make the jump to humans. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 10 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly, who represents District 6, said the staffing shortages and resulting hold times should alarm Austin residents. Fox News, 23 Aug. 2022 Needham argues the discrepancy between military housing allowances and the current market should alarm officials who are already struggling to recruit the next generation. R.j. Rico, al, 20 Aug. 2022 Needham argues that the discrepancy between military housing allowances and the current market should alarm officials who are already struggling to recruit the next generation. R.j. Rico, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Aug. 2022 But this does not mean that the metaverse should alarm us. Matthew Ball, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2022 The climate effects may alarm those concerned with sustainability. Wired, 21 July 2022 The warning is not meant to alarm voters, but simply to inform them. Shelley Jones, Chicago Tribune, 22 July 2022 Testers also like that the lock can be programmed to alarm if the door is left open for a certain period of time. Dan Diclerico, Good Housekeeping, 10 May 2022 The Treason Act is an offense to assault the queen, or have a firearm or offensive weapon in her presence with intent to injure or alarm her or to cause a breach of peace, according to CPS. Kyla Guilfoil, ABC News, 2 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alarm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of alarm


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alarm


Middle English alarme, alarom, from Middle French alarme, from Old Italian all'arme, literally, to the arms

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Time Traveler for alarm

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The first known use of alarm was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near alarm

Alaric II



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Statistics for alarm

Last Updated

4 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Alarm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for alarm


\ ə-ˈlärm How to pronounce alarm (audio) \

Kids Definition of alarm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a warning of danger The dog's barking gave the alarm.
2 : a device (as a bell) that warns or signals people a car alarm
3 : alarm clock Set the alarm for six o'clock.
4 : the feeling of fear caused by a sudden sense of danger She was filled with alarm on hearing the crash downstairs.


alarmed; alarming

Kids Definition of alarm (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause to feel a sense of danger : worry or frighten Their strange behavior alarmed us.

More from Merriam-Webster on alarm

Nglish: Translation of alarm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alarm for Arabic Speakers


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