alarm

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

alarm

verb
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

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Choose the Right Synonym for alarm

Noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These Are the Warning Signs to Look Out For By Lisa Marie Segarra Stripe Outages Smacked Business for Two Hours By Julie Verhage et al ONE MORE THING CTRL-SHIFT-FACE: For all the alarm over deepfakes, some of them are just plain cool. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "In Apple We Trust—Cyber Saturday," 13 July 2019 Its presence was cause for major and immediate alarm, said Divine. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "A rat was found dead on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Here’s why that’s a big deal.," 2 July 2019 As public outrage grows over the conditions in which thousands of people — some no more than a few months old — are being held by the U.S. government, the report offered new cause for alarm. Nomaan Merchant, chicagotribune.com, "'A ticking time bomb’: Government photos show detained migrants pleading for help in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities," 2 July 2019 As public outrage grows over the conditions in which thousands of people — some no more than a few months old — are being held by the U.S. government, the report offered new cause for alarm. Nomaan Merchant, The Denver Post, "Government photos show detained migrants pleading for help," 2 July 2019 An imminent step beyond the limits of the deal is not a cause for immediate alarm. The Economist, "Breaking the nuclear deal ratchets up the conflict between Iran and America," 28 June 2019 Greenwold had been chatting in a loose cluster beside us, but overheard Anya and turned to her with alarm. Matthew Klam, The New Yorker, "The Weird, Violent, Uplifting Paintings of Mark Greenwold," 26 June 2019 Charles Sattler, a company vice president, sees the news as a bit of a reality check, but not a cause for alarm. Maureen O’hagan, Quartz, "The way we breed cows is setting them up for extinction," 24 June 2019 Charles Sattler, a company vice president, sees the news as a bit of a reality check, but not a cause for alarm. Maureen O'hagan, Scientific American, "From Two Bulls, Nine Million Dairy Cows," 20 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That the show chose to feature a drug like fentanyl in the second episode might be particularly alarming to audiences. Cory Stieg, refinery29.com, "The Truth About The Fentanyl Scene In Euphoria," 25 June 2019 Such declarations have become trite, but scarcities are recyclable excuses for expanding government: There are so many things that alarmists can be alarmed about possibly becoming scarce and therefore supposedly requiring government rationers. George Will, National Review, "The Scarcity Scam," 13 June 2019 In our current climate of increasing gun violence, watching them play like that can be alarming for our generation of parents. Emily Edlynn, Good Housekeeping, "Is It Okay for Boys to Play With Toy Guns, or Will It Make Them Violent?," 29 Apr. 2019 There is nothing inevitable about the U.S. winning wars, and on that point the Pentagon’s new missile defense review is alarming. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Missile Defense Alert," 3 Feb. 2019 Also alarmed were the 3,000 or so folks who suit up in Yankee or Rebel uniforms for a weekend of historical cosplay. Charles Selle, chicagotribune.com, "Selle: Great divide remains over course of county’s Civil War Days," 17 June 2019 Many in the West have been alarmed by the enormous power Xi has accumulated, taking it as a harbinger of armed conflict. Kishore Mahbubani, Harper's magazine, "What China Threat?," 10 Feb. 2019 Forty-six-year resident Stacy Sipple was alarmed when trees were removed along Palmetto Park Road east of the I-95 ramps in south Boca, leaving backyards exposed to the street. Marci Shatzman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Some stunned to see exposed backyards as canal banks are cleared for storm season," 2 July 2018 Trump lashed out at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, accusing him of saying there was no reason to be alarmed about a terror attack. Jen Kirby, Vox, "A giant “Trump Baby” balloon will greet Trump in London next week," 6 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of alarm

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alarm

Noun

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

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Learn More about alarm

Dictionary Entries near alarm

Alaria

Alaric

Alaric II

alarm

alarmable

alarm bell

alarm bird

Statistics for alarm

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alarm

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

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More Definitions for alarm

alarm

noun

English Language Learners Definition of alarm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device that makes a loud sound as a warning or signal
: a feeling of fear caused by a sudden sense of danger
: a warning of danger

alarm

verb

English Language Learners Definition of alarm (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to feel a sense of danger : to worry or frighten (someone)

alarm

noun
\ 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.

alarm

verb
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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on alarm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alarm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alarm

Spanish Central: Translation of alarm

Nglish: Translation of alarm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alarm for Arabic Speakers

Comments on alarm

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