AskDefine | Define alarm

Dictionary Definition



1 fear resulting from the awareness of danger [syn: dismay, consternation]
2 a device that signals the occurrence of some undesirable event [syn: warning device, alarm system]
3 an automatic signal (usually a sound) warning of danger [syn: alert, warning signal, alarum]
4 a clock that wakes sleeper at preset time [syn: alarm clock]


1 fill with apprehension or alarm; cause to be unpleasantly surprised; "I was horrified at the thought of being late for my interview"; "The news of the executions horrified us" [syn: dismay, appal, appall, horrify]
2 warn or arouse to a sense of danger or call to a state of preparedness; "The empty house alarmed him"; "We alerted the new neighbors to the high rate of burglaries" [syn: alert]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Alarm



French alarme > Italian all'arme! (to arms!, to the weapons!) > Latin arma, armorum.


IPA: WEAE /ˈʌ.lɑɹm/


  1. A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy.
    Arming to answer in a night alarm. --Shak.
  2. Any sound or information intended to give notice of approaching danger; a warning sound to arouse attention; a warning of danger.
    Sound an alarm in my holy mountain. --Joel ii. 1.
    Thy palace fill with insults and alarms. --Pope.
  3. Sudden surprise with fear or terror excited by apprehension of danger; in the military use, commonly, sudden apprehension of being attacked by surprise.
    Alarm and resentment spread throughout the camp. --Macaulay.
  4. A mechanical contrivance for awaking persons from sleep, or rousing their attention; an alarum.


a summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy
any sound or information intended to give notice of approaching danger
sudden surprise with fear or terror excited by apprehension of danger
a mechanical contrivance for awaking persons from sleep

See also


  1. To call to arms for defense; to give notice to (any one) of approaching danger; to rouse to vigilance and action; to put on the alert.
  2. To keep in excitement; to disturb.
  3. To surprise with apprehension of danger; to fill with anxiety in regard to threatening evil; to excite with sudden fear.


To call to arms; to give notice of approaching danger
To keep in excitement; to disturb
To surprise with apprehension of danger

Related terms


  • 1913}}



Extensive Definition

An alarm (French: À l'arme - "To the arms") gives an audible or visual warning of a problem or condition.
Alarms include:
Alarms have the capability of causing a fight-or-flight response in humans; a person under this mindset will panic and either flee the perceived danger or attempt to eliminate it, often ignoring rational thought in either case. We can characterise a person in such a state as "alarmed".
With any kind of alarm, the need exists to balance between on the one hand the danger of false alarms (called "false positives") — the signal going off in the absence of a problem — and on the other hand failing to signal an actual problem (called a "false negative"). False alarms can waste resources expensively and can even be dangerous. For example, false alarms of a fire can waste firefighter manpower, making them unavailable for a real fire, and risk injury to firefighters and others as the fire engines race to the alleged fire's location. In addition, false alarms may acclimatise people to ignore alarm signals, and thus possibly to ignore an actual emergency: Aesop's fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf exemplifies this problem.
=Etymology= "Alarm" came from Old French 'à l'arme' = "to the weapon", telling armed men to pick up their weapons and get ready for action (because an enemy may have suddenly appeared).

See also

alarm in German: Alarm
alarm in French: Alarme
alarm in Hebrew: אזעקה
alarm in Croatian: Alarmi
alarm in Dutch: Alarm (apparaat)
alarm in Portuguese: Alarme
alarm in Swedish: Larm
alarm in Turkish: Alarm

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Angelus, Angelus bell, Roman candle, abject fear, admonishment, admonition, affright, aid to navigation, alarum, alert, amaze, amber light, anxiety, apprehension, arouse, astonish, awe, balefire, battle cry, beacon, beacon fire, bell, bell buoy, birdcall, blinker, blue funk, blue peter, bugle call, buoy, call, caution, caution light, caveat, cold feet, consternation, cowardice, cry havoc, cry wolf, curdle the blood, daunt, deterrent example, discomfort, dismay, disquiet, distress, disturb, dread, example, excitement, fear, final notice, final warning, flare, fly storm warnings, fog bell, fog signal, fog whistle, foghorn, forewarning, fright, frighten, funk, glance, go light, gong, gong buoy, green light, heliograph, high sign, hint, horn, horrification, horripilate, horror, international alphabet flag, international numeral pennant, kick, last post, leer, lesson, make one tremble, marker beacon, monition, moose call, moral, nervousness, nod, notice, notification, nudge, object lesson, panic, panic fear, parachute flare, phobia, pilot flag, poke, police whistle, prenotice, quarantine flag, radio beacon, raise apprehensions, rallying cry, rebel yell, red flag, red light, reveille, rocket, sailing aid, scare, semaphore, semaphore flag, semaphore telegraph, shake, sign, signal, signal beacon, signal bell, signal fire, signal flag, signal gong, signal gun, signal lamp, signal light, signal mast, signal post, signal rocket, signal shot, signal siren, signal tower, siren, sound the alarm, sound the tocsin, spar buoy, spook, stagger, stampede, startle, stop light, strain, stress, summons, surprise, taps, tension, terrify, terror, terrorize, the nod, the wink, threat, tip-off, tocsin, touch, traffic light, traffic signal, trepidation, trumpet call, ultimatum, uneasiness, unholy dread, unman, unnerve, unstring, upset, verbum sapienti, war cry, warn, warning, warning piece, watch fire, whistle, white flag, wigwag, wigwag flag, wink, yellow flag
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1