alarm

noun
\ ə-ˈlärm \
variants: or less commonly alarum \ ə-​ˈlär-​əm also  -​ˈler-​ ; -​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

Although the system certainly raises alarms — Human Rights Watch is concerned about it, after all — the idea that the US credit system operates much more equitably is shortsighted. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Spend “frivolously” and be penalized under China’s new social credit system," 2 Nov. 2018 The premiere presents two dentists who raised alarms about a pediatric dental chain. Hal Boedeker, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'Jonestown: An American Tragedy,' Sacha Baron Cohen: This weekend," 13 July 2018 Neighbors raised alarms earlier this month when demolition notices went on the buildings. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, "19th century stone homes to become part of new apartment design in Woodberry," 14 June 2018 Students at Oconomowoc High School evacuated Tuesday morning, May 22, for what turned out to be a false fire alarm. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "False alarm prompts evacuation of Oconomowoc High School," 22 May 2018 Science advocates have raised alarms about self-censorship under the Trump administration, saying political research reviews and staff reassignments create a chilling atmosphere (Climatewire, May 15). Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Government Sea Level Rise Report Released After Charges of Censorship," 21 May 2018 Sophomore Kyle Harris, who took part in the walkout last month, was in first period when a fire alarm went off Friday. CBS News, "Texas students who supported Florida shooting survivors endure own attack," 19 May 2018 But in recent decades, the rising rate of C-sections in this country has raised alarms in the medical community. Hannah Sparling, Cincinnati.com, "We have always been mothers. But C-sections are changing how that is happening.," 10 May 2018 Another group of former employees from Google, Facebook and elsewhere created the Center for Humane Technology to raise alarms about the vulnerabilities caused by addictive products. Fortune, "How Smartphones and Social Media Can Steal Childhood," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At the end of the episode, Howard puts the kids to bed and joins Raj in the outdoor hot tub; Raj hears a noise and is alarmed someone's in the playhouse. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "The Big Bang Theory Season 12, Episode 7 Recap: Bernadette Hides From Her Kids," 1 Nov. 2018 Staring at a newspaper article about Galland and Shafran, 19-year-old David Kellman was alarmed. refinery29.com, "The Extremely Dark Side To The Buzzy Documentary Three Identical Strangers," 28 June 2018 If clean eating sounds potentially off-putting, don’t be alarmed; the serious food background of brothers Tomas and Joey Woolston (their parents own Matteo’s Pizza & Bistro and Crocker Café by Supper Club) shines through in most of the fare. Kate Washington, sacbee, "With a Burning Man vibe, Backbone Café taps into the current 'clean-eating' craze," 27 Apr. 2018 Katy Perry, at least, looks first visibly alarmed -- then just bored -- throughout the night, as these once-promising hopefuls stumble left and right. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'American Idol' Top 14 Give Lackluster Performances: Critic's Take," 23 Apr. 2018 No one is alarmed because of all the cold weather and postponements. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Indians: Talking Michael Brantley, slumps, prospects -- Terry Pluto," 21 Apr. 2018 Don’t be alarmed by needing a few rounds alterations. Melissa Colgan, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Shop for a Wedding Dress—When Bridal Salons Aren’t What You’d Expect," 11 Dec. 2018 While not immediately alarmed by the number of departing officers, Best said there has been an uptick, with 79 retiring or transferring to other departments this past year, up from 71 in 2016. Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, "For candidate Carmen Best, ‘nothing more important to me than being chief in Seattle’," 12 July 2018 The trooper was not alarmed by the placement of signs or with lighting in the area. John Sowell, idahostatesman, "Drivers wonder whether I-84 lane closures contributed to crash that killed 4," 20 June 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

19 Jan 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 \

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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