false alarm


Definition of false alarm 

1 : an alarm (such as a fire or burglar alarm) that is set off needlessly

2 : something causing alarm or excitement that proves to be unfounded

Examples of false alarm in a Sentence

A false alarm drew firefighters to the school. The report that the factory would be closing was a false alarm. He thought he might be having a heart attack, but his chest pains were just a false alarm.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hanabusa used the false alarm as a key camapaign issue against Ige. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Hawaii races: Ige ahead; Tupola, Gabbard, Case all win," 12 Aug. 2018 Bonafide started wondering about commercially available monitors after treating a child brought to the emergency room because of a false alarm. Fox News, "Consumer baby monitors may get vital signs wrong," 21 Aug. 2018 In February, Popovich — realizing that all of these false alarms were doing his team no good — suggested that the Spurs needed to play as though Leonard was not going to return, and as though they would not be rescued by some savior. Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, "In Spurs’ saga, explanations remain elusive," 4 July 2018 The Valparaiso Police Department is getting tough on businesses and homeowners who bring officers to their locations, sometimes repeatedly, with the ring of false alarms. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Police announce plan to get tough on false alarms," 9 May 2018 The researchers found that this swath was easily detected by infrared sensors, and estimated a 99 percent chance of detecting a robot ray with a low chance of false alarms. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "How Robot Stingrays Could One Day Sink a Battleship," 3 May 2018 But those tests fail to detect many cancers, and also send up a lot of false alarms. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "Modified Pap tests can show early warning signs of other gynecological cancers," 22 Mar. 2018 Across New Jersey, several other towns have had to deal with a spate of false alarms and threats. David W. Chen And Ethan Sterenfeld, New York Times, "Armed Officers Will Patrol New Jersey Town’s Schools," 20 Feb. 2018 For 38 excruciating, masturbation-free minutes, Hawaiians prepared for their imminent destruction — only to learn that the warning had been a false alarm, triggered by a state employee hitting the wrong button in a drop-down menu. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The Hawaii Missile Scare Was Caused by Overly Realistic Drill," 30 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'false 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 false alarm

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for false alarm

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for false alarm

The first known use of false alarm was in 1578

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More Definitions for false alarm

false alarm


English Language Learners Definition of false alarm

: an alarm (such as a fire alarm) that is set off when it is not needed

: something that causes people to wrongly believe that something bad or dangerous is going to happen

More from Merriam-Webster on false alarm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with false alarm

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