false alarm


: an alarm (such as a fire or burglar alarm) that is set off needlessly
: 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Jerome Greco, supervising attorney of the digital forensics unit at the Legal Aid Society, said gun detection systems can trigger false alarms and cause panic. Karen Matthews, Fortune, 29 Mar. 2024 Warnings lights might indicate a serious problem or a false alarm. David Koenig, Quartz, 22 Mar. 2024 Prosecutors charged her as a juvenile with telecommunication harassment and initiating a false alarm, both misdemeanors. Kevin Grasha, The Enquirer, 19 Mar. 2024 The false alarm charge carries a penalty of five years in prison and/or $5,000. Thomas Goodwin Smith, Baltimore Sun, 1 Feb. 2024 There is no master plan, no permanent winner, and a fair number of false alarms along the way. Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Fortune, 12 Feb. 2024 Two Navy SEALs died after going overboard during an interdiction operation in the Arabian Sea and an American civilian contractor died of a heart attack during a false alarm for a strike. Peter Baker, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Multiple media outlets initially reported on the disturbance, which was deemed a false alarm, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 Fines usually start around $25 and increase with each false alarm. Angie Hicks, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'false alarm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of false alarm was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near false alarm

Cite this Entry

“False alarm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/false%20alarm. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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