alarm bell

noun

Definition of alarm bell

: a bell that sounds when an alarm is activated often used figuratively … the Mexican swine flu outbreak that is sounding alarm bells [=causing people to become worried or alarmed] across the world …— Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald, 30 Apr. 2009 The spike in oil prices has set off alarm bells across the automobile industry.

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of alarm bell

1548, in the meaning defined above

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best smoke detectors.

Learn More About alarm bell

Time Traveler for alarm bell

Time Traveler

The first known use of alarm bell was in 1548

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near alarm bell

alarmable

alarm bell

alarm bird

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for alarm bell

Cite this Entry

“Alarm bell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alarm%20bell. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!