toc·​sin | \ ˈtäk-sən How to pronounce tocsin (audio) \

Definition of tocsin

1 : an alarm bell or the ringing of it
2 : a warning signal

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Synonyms for tocsin


flag, signal

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Did You Know?

Although it has occasionally been spelled like its homonym toxin, tocsin has nothing to do with poison. Rather, it is derived from the Middle French toquassen, which in turn comes from the Old Occitan tocasenh, and ultimately from the assumed Vulgar Latin verb toccare ("to ring a bell") and the Latin signum ("mark, sign"), which have given us, respectively, the English words touch and signal. Tocsin long referred to the ringing of church bells to signal events of importance to local villagers, including dangerous events such as attacks. Its use was eventually broadened to cover anything that signals danger or trouble.

Examples of tocsin in a Sentence

the tocsin rang out, warning us of the approaching tornado noted that a sudden drop in a student's grades may be a tocsin of a serious personal problem

First Known Use of tocsin

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tocsin

Middle French toquassen, from Old Occitan tocasenh, from tocar to touch, ring a bell (from Vulgar Latin *toccare) + senh sign, bell, from Medieval Latin & Latin signum; Medieval Latin, bell, from Late Latin, ringing of a bell, from Latin, mark, sign — more at touch entry 1, sign

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to crown it all





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Time Traveler for tocsin

The first known use of tocsin was in 1586

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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