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

Donnelly, the neighbor, said he was alerted to the fire by a popping noise followed by the sound of smoke alarms. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "‘He was totally engulfed in flames’: Witnesses recount blaze that injured two Everett firefighters," 14 July 2018 That note of alarm sounded by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, came on the same day that 12 Russian agents were indicted on charges of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Julian E. Barnes, New York Times, "‘Warning Lights Are Blinking Red,’ Top Intelligence Officer Says of Russian Attacks," 13 July 2018 The still and box alarm fire was struck out about 1:40 a.m., Russell said. Hannah Leone, chicagotribune.com, "Residents escape on ladders from Chatham apartment fire," 13 July 2018 After the boys went missing, there was alarm they might never be found in the labyrinthine cave complex, amid a frantic search effort that drew cave divers from around the world. George Styllis, latimes.com, "From mission impossible to mission accomplished: Thailand rejoices as last boys rescued from cave," 11 July 2018 There was instant alarm—from the National Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, PTA groups. Sam Tanenhaus, Town & Country, "Can Chris Whittle Launch a Truly Global School?," 10 July 2018 The result is a near-real-time readout of Earth’s vital signs, firing off alerts and alarms whenever the ailing patient takes a turn for the worse. Bill Gourgey, WIRED, "How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural Disasters," 10 July 2018 The car alarms triggered by the window-rattling bangs are just as annoying. Otis R. Taylor Jr., SFChronicle.com, "Fireworks fascination can never be defused, so keep your ears plugged," 9 July 2018 But with the electricity out, there would be no alarm and no fifteen-second delay on the crash bar. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The fact that Ford is decreasing the number of cars alarms people who are loyal Fusion buyers. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "You’ll never guess what the new Ford Fusion looks like," 11 July 2018 Recovering from a slow start that alarmed Republicans in Washington, Culberson also retained a substantial cash advantage, with $920,000 in the bank at the beginning of April, compared with $409,000 for Fletcher. Kevin Diaz, Houston Chronicle, "Lizzie Fletcher hits $1 million in race to unseat Houston GOP incumbent John Culberson," 6 July 2018 Since Duterte took office in 2016, more than 4,200 drug suspects had been killed in clashes with police, alarming human rights groups, Western governments and U.N. rights watchdogs. Joeal Calupitan, The Seattle Times, "Philippine city mayor gunned down during flag-raising event," 2 July 2018 Since Duterte took office in 2016, more than 4,200 drug suspects had been killed in clashes with police, alarming human rights groups, Western governments and U.N. rights watchdogs. Fox News, "Philippine city mayor gunned down during flag-raising event," 2 July 2018 Nothing is wrong with Adrian Beltre, though those who saw him start Thursday at designated hitter and then tuned in Friday night to see him back on the Texas Rangers' bench might have been alarmed. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "How drastically will Beltre's return cut into Kiner-Falefa's playing time?," 1 June 2018 Furthermore, at Manchester United, reports claim the players were alarmed at the manager's inability to halt United's slide, whilst being disgruntled with Moyes' tiresome training sessions focusing on team shape and organisation. SI.com, "Why David Moyes Is Not the Man to Take West Ham Forward Despite Saving Hammers From Relegation," 15 May 2018 Political observers who are alarmed by President Trump’s tariffs have invoked the Smoot Hawley tariffs that were blamed for deepening the Great Depression in the 1930s. Michael Joe Murphy, OrlandoSentinel.com, "World trade — what everyone needs to know," 11 July 2018 Tiny, oil-rich Kuwait has been caught up in a wider crackdown on dissent across the Persian Gulf Arab states, whose monarchical rulers were alarmed by the pro-democracy protests that swept the region seven years ago. Washington Post, "World Digest: July 8, 2018," 8 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

14 Sep 2018

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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Comments on alarm

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