Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sudden fear caused by the realization of danger.
  • n. A warning of existing or approaching danger.
  • n. An electrical, electronic, or mechanical device that serves to warn of danger by means of a sound or signal.
  • n. The sounding mechanism of an alarm clock.
  • n. A call to arms.
  • transitive v. To fill with alarm; frighten. See Synonyms at fear, frighten.
  • transitive v. To give warning to.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy.
  • n. Any sound or information intended to give notice of approaching danger; a warning sound to arouse attention; a warning of danger.
  • n. Sudden surprise with fear or terror excited by apprehension of danger; in the military use, commonly, sudden apprehension of being attacked by surprise.
  • n. A mechanical device for awaking people, or rousing their attention.
  • n. An instance of an alarum ringing or clanging, to give a noise signal at a certain time.
  • v. To call to arms for defense
  • v. To give (someone) notice of approaching danger
  • v. To rouse to vigilance and action; to put on the alert.
  • v. To surprise with apprehension of danger; to fill with anxiety in regard to threatening evil; to excite with sudden fear.
  • v. To keep in excitement; to disturb.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy.
  • n. Any sound or information intended to give notice of approaching danger; a warning sound to arouse attention; a warning of danger.
  • n. A sudden attack; disturbance; broil.
  • n. Sudden surprise with fear or terror excited by apprehension of danger; in the military use, commonly, sudden apprehension of being attacked by surprise.
  • n. A mechanical contrivance for awaking persons from sleep, or rousing their attention; an alarum.
  • transitive v. 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.
  • transitive v. To keep in excitement; to disturb.
  • transitive v. To surprise with apprehension of danger; to fill with anxiety in regard to threatening evil; to excite with sudden fear.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To call to arms for defense; give notice of danger to; rouse to vigilance and exertions for safety: as, alarm the watch.
  • To surprise with apprehension of danger; disturb with sudden fear; fill with anxiety by the prospect of evil.
  • To give an alarm.
  • n. A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy; hence, any sound, outcry, or information intended to give notice of approaching danger.
  • n. A hostile attack; a tumult; a broil; a disturbance.
  • n. A sudden fear or painful suspense excited by an apprehension of danger; apprehension; fright: as, there is nothing in his illness to cause alarm.
  • n. A warning sound; a signal for attention; an urgent call, summons, or notification.
  • n. A self-acting contrivance of any kind used to call attention, rouse from sleep, warn of danger, etc.
  • n. Alarm, Apprehension, Fright, Terror, Dismay, Consternation, Panic, affright, agitation, flutter, perturbation. These words all express degrees of fear in view of possible or certain, perhaps imminent, danger.
  • n. Apprehension is the lowest degree of fear; the mind takes hold of the idea of danger, and without alarm considers the best way of meeting it.
  • n. Alarm is the next stage; by derivation it is the alarum or summons to arms. The feelings are agitated in view of sudden or just-discovered danger to one's self or others. Generally its effect upon the mind is like that of apprehension; it energizes rather than overpowers the mental faculties.
  • n. Fright, terror, and dismay are higher and perhaps equal degrees of fear; their difference is in kind and in effect.
  • n. Fright affects especially the nerves and senses, being generally the effect of sudden fear.
  • n. Terror may be a later form of fright, or independent and as sudden; it overpowers the understanding and unmans one.
  • n. Dismay appals or breaks down the courage and hope, and therefore, as suggested by its derivation, the disposition to do anything to ward off the peril; what dismays one may be the failure or loss of his chosen means of defense.
  • n. Fright and terror are often the effect of undefined fears, as in superstition, and are especially used with reference to physical fear.
  • n. Consternation overwhelms the mental faculties by the suddenness or the utterly unexpected greatness of the danger.
  • n. Panic is a peculiar form of fear; it is sudden, demoralizing, a temporary madness of fear, altogether out of proportion to its cause; there may even be no cause discoverable. It is the fear of a mass of people, or, figuratively, of animals.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. warn or arouse to a sense of danger or call to a state of preparedness
  • n. a device that signals the occurrence of some undesirable event
  • v. fill with apprehension or alarm; cause to be unpleasantly surprised
  • n. fear resulting from the awareness of danger
  • n. an automatic signal (usually a sound) warning of danger
  • n. a clock that wakes a sleeper at some preset time

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French alarme, from Old Italian allarme, from all'arme, to arms : alla, to the (from Latin ad illa : ad, to; see ad- + illa, neuter pl. of ille, that, the.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English alarme, alarom, from Middle French alarme, itself from Old Italian all'arme! ("to arms!, to the weapons!"), ultimately from Latin arma ("arms, weapons"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • Originally from Italy:
    'All`arme' = to the weapons!

    April 26, 2008

  • This word is now used in airport TSA parlance to mean "setting off the alarm" (of the metal detection gate). Heard on NPR: "If they alarm, we will do a full inspection of their luggage".

    November 22, 2007

  • "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken.

    January 1, 2007