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

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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

HBO Sound the alarms: After an *extremely* long wait and much anticipation, HBO has confirmed Big Little Lies' second season is officially going ahead. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "HBO Drops New 'Big Little Lies' Photos From Season 2," 8 Feb. 2019 Security researchers have repeatedly sounded the alarm in recent years that airline IT is struggling to cope with the demands of modernity. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "A Hacker Exposed the Ancient Flaw That Makes Airlines So Hackable," 17 Jan. 2019 Seb Daly/Web Summit via Getty Images The whistleblower who sounded the alarm about Facebook’s data vulnerabilities in the 2016 election cycle isn’t done yelling — even on Election Day 2018. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "On Election Day, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower is blasting Facebook for still not doing enough," 6 Nov. 2018 Recent news that Alex Trebek might be retiring soon sounded the alarm for avid Jeopardy! fans everywhere. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "A Fascinating Look Back at How Alex Trebek Got Started on 'Jeopardy!'," 30 July 2018 The three-alarm fire broke out at the store near 35th and Northern avenues just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "Storm damage, roof collapse may have triggered Safeway fire, officials say," 12 July 2018 Too much coverage in the run-up to this week’s NATO Summit treated the conflict between President Trump and European leaders like a four-alarm fire – as if maybe it could be put out. Heather Hurlburt, Daily Intelligencer, "There Is No Cleaning Up the Foreign Policy Mess Trump Is Making," 11 July 2018 The two-alarm blaze broke out around 1:30 a.m. in the 3000 block of 11th Street NW in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "‘Rapidly spreading’ fire hits home in Northwest Washington," 9 July 2018 The two-alarm fire involved several classrooms at the campus on Grand Avenue, the Fire Department said on Twitter. Anna Buchmann, sacbee, "Late-night fire destroys classroom at Grant Union High," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The organization published a lengthy blogpost on Wednesday detailing how the product works and why you should be alarmed. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Amazon Continues to Patent Facial Recognition Technologies—And Is Facing Pressure From All Sides," 13 Dec. 2018 In recent years, down-to-the wire debt-limit negotiations have raised concerns that the U.S. could default on its debt, alarming investors. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "New White House, Congressional Spending Fights on the Horizon," 16 Feb. 2019 But what appears to be happening instead is that nonsmoking youth are taking up vaping at alarming rates. Julia Belluz, Vox, "$1.3 million: the average bonus Juul employees get after a deal with a cigarette maker," 20 Dec. 2018 Measles outbreaks in this state and elsewhere have alarmed parents, doctors and public officials about a highly contagious disease that had been deemed eliminated in 2000. Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times, "Fear, resentment — and more demand for vaccines as one Washington county grapples with measles outbreak," 1 Apr. 2019 The challenge has allegedly been linked to several teen suicides, which has alarmed parents. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Is The Momo Challenge Finally Over?!," 6 Mar. 2019 The findings alarmed some privacy experts who reviewed the Journal’s testing. Sam Schechner, WSJ, "You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook.," 22 Feb. 2019 The fact that international inspections do not appear to have detected the NDMA contamination alarms Anders Fuglsang, a former European medicines regulator who runs a pharmaceutical consultancy in Denmark. Fox News, "Toxin at heart of drug recall shows holes in medical safety net," 22 Aug. 2018 His dietary and exercise habits have alarmed some health experts and spurred unflattering comparisons to past occupiers of the Oval Office. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Trump, fast-food lover and exercise avoider, tells nation about importance of fitness," 30 May 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

11 May 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 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.

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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

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