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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The report comes at a time when lawmakers are increasingly uneasy with the close relationship between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia, which has raised alarms even among members of the president’s party in Congress. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis, report says," 20 Feb. 2019 That’s raised bipartisan alarm over its apparent threat to Congress’s power of the purse. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Trump’s Emergency Is Test for Congress," 19 Feb. 2019 And at least one Uber manager tried to raise the alarm on March 13—just days before Herzberg's death. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Uber manager in March: “We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles”," 11 Dec. 2018 This compares to about 20-30 percent for a human operator looking at aerial imagery, though the SharkSpotter’s identification is still checked by a human before raising the alarm. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "Why the U.S. Is Backing Killer Robots," 14 Sep. 2018 One tweet in particular raised the alarm for fans: a post about a fake meet and greet with the Riverdale cast in Los Angeles. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Cole Sprouse Was Hacked on Twitter," 14 Aug. 2018 After Kalaallit Airports short-listed a Chinese construction firm to build the new airports, Denmark conveyed its alarm to the Pentagon. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "How the Pentagon Countered China’s Designs on Greenland," 10 Feb. 2019 The two women have a system in place: Every day, after her alarm wakes her, one woman opens the shade to her window. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Shoplifters Is One of 2018’s Most Stunning Films," 28 Nov. 2018 But those who advocate for continuing protections for people with pre-existing conditions aren’t quite ready to sound the alarm. Austin Horn, San Antonio Express-News, "With ACA under attack, a family racked by illness wonders what will happen to their health coverage," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In January, reports broke across the pond that Kensington Palace was alarmed at the number of sexist and racist comments hurled at the two women, as well as the aggressive insults users made at each other. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Kensington Palace Is Taking Action Against Social Media Trolls," 4 Mar. 2019 That’s why the NFPA recommends testing your smoke alarms at least once a month, replacing the batteries once a year (or when the alarm chirps to tell you the battery is low), and replacing any smoke alarm that’s more than 10 years old. Kimberly Truong, SELF, "House Fires Are Way More Common in Winter—Here’s How to Stay Safe," 23 Jan. 2019 The country’s alarming drift back to authoritarianism and right-wing extremism is just the latest episode. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Budapest Is Europe's Unlikely Capital of Hedonism," 29 Aug. 2018 Since yesterday, Paul has been acting strangely and has seemed confused, alarming Janet. Eliezer J. Sternberg, Discover Magazine, "The Man Who Lost His Language Overnight," 17 Aug. 2018 What’s more notable about Puciato’s op-ed is the timing of its appearance: Spotify, over the past several months, has pushed a number of initiatives that have alarmed and ruffled the feathers of its label partners. Dan Rys, Billboard, "Spotify's Artist Platform Runs Op-Ed On Reasons Not to Sign to Record Labels," 6 July 2018 Speaking of the 2008 housing collapse, one might naturally be alarmed by the prospect of a housing slowdown, given the financial calamity that occurred as a result of the last housing slowdown. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Housing market signaled potential future downturn in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Meanwhile, so as not to alarm the regulars, front-of-house changes have been stealthier. Rico Gagliano, WSJ, "This Iconic Hollywood Restaurant Lets You Travel Back in Time," 13 Feb. 2019 In other words, President Trump will text you (and every other US citizen) this afternoon — but there’s no need to be alarmed. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Trump will text you at 2:18PM ET today as part of FEMA’s Presidential Alert test," 3 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about alarm

Dictionary Entries near alarm

Alaria

Alaric

Alaric II

alarm

alarmable

alarm bell

alarm bird

Statistics for alarm

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alarm

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up alarm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!