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


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


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


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.


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

For instance, the yield curve inverted in 2006, sending out a loud alarm about the risk of a recession. Matt Egan, CNN, "Stocks and bonds are sending conflicting signals about the economy. Which one is right?," 16 Sep. 2019 It could be hooked into the electrical system so that when a door is opened, the alarm sounds. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "‘I understand why drivers ignore school bus signs’: Roadshow," 12 Sep. 2019 Tish Schwartz, chief clerk, House Judiciary Committee: The fire alarms went off. Garrett M. Graff, Time, "What Happened on Capitol Hill on 9/11," 11 Sep. 2019 Vic Knight, general manager at the stadium, said on Monday that two things need to be done right away: Replace an electrical transformer in the north endzone and replace a fire alarm panel. John Sharp |, al, "Will Mobile’s legal wrangling slow stadium improvements?," 11 Sep. 2019 Berger has been in federal custody since his arrest last December and will likely be transferred to Cook County Jail on an unrelated charge of pulling a fire alarm at a police station. Jason Meisner,, "Suburban man acquitted of charges he threatened to kill FBI agents," 9 Sep. 2019 It's not known if any alarm sounded or what the people below deck may have done to try to escape. Brian Melley, Anchorage Daily News, "Probe to find cause of boat fire could lead to criminal case," 5 Sep. 2019 On a recent Friday, Smith-Schuster’s alarm went off in his Pittsburgh home at 4:30 a.m. JuJu and his French bulldog, Boujee—who has 206,000 Instagram followers of his own—had a 5:40 flight to L.A., where JuJu had a full day of appearances. Michael Mcknight,, "Much Ado About JuJu," 4 Sep. 2019 Police said at the time that no alarm sounded from the break-in or theft, and the perpetrator left no fingerprints. Justin Curto,, "The Wizard of Oz's Ruby Slippers Became Iconic 80 Years Ago — And for Years, One Pair Was Lost," 25 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This year alone, their number has dropped from 76 to 73, alarming conservationists and scientists. Jim Robbins, New York Times, "How Long Before These Salmon Are Gone? ‘Maybe 20 Years’," 16 Sep. 2019 To best understand the effect Cristiano Ronaldo had at Real Madrid, cast your eyes over these alarming statistics., "Assessing How 7 Clubs Fared After Their Star Performer Left," 12 Sep. 2019 Unfortunately, Michigan students are missing school at alarming rates. NBC News, "How are local leaders working to improve student attendance?," 6 Sep. 2019 So far, 215 cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping have been reported in 25 states, alarming health officials with their quick onset and unknown causes. oregonlive, "Oregon reports possible vaping death; would be second in U.S. if confirmed," 4 Sep. 2019 But when trees are logged and the forest is burned, that carbon is released into the atmosphere at alarming rates. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "4 Reasons Why We Need the Amazon Rainforest," 4 Sep. 2019 The report builds on alarming studies about the dangers of youth football. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Decline in high school football participation is encouraging," 3 Sep. 2019 In the past few days, alarming photos have spread across social media, showing the Amazon rainforest—the world's largest—on fire. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "Amazon Fires: What’s Really Happening and How You Can Help," 22 Aug. 2019 Their lack of tusks has allowed them to fare better than African elephants, poached at alarming rates for the global ivory market. National Geographic, "Elephant skin sales rapidly mounting," 12 Aug. 2019

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


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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Learn More about alarm

Dictionary Entries near alarm



Alaric II



alarm bell

alarm bird

Statistics for alarm

Last Updated

12 Oct 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



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



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

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


\ 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.

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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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suitable to be imparted to the public

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