Definitions

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

  • n. A warning or alarm, especially a call to arms: "This instrument called television can teach and illuminate, cautioned Edward R. Murrow, but only to the extent that its operators choose to use it.... An era later ... Murrow's alarum remains as up to date as tonight's news” ( Harry F. Waters).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A danger signal or warning.
  • n. A call to arms.
  • v. To sound alarums, to sound an alarm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See alarm.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as alarm.
  • n. Same as alarm, but now used only in sense 4, except poetically.

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

  • n. an automatic signal (usually a sound) warning of danger

Etymologies

Middle English alarom, variant of alarm, alarm; see alarm.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English alarom, from Italian all'arme ("to arms, to the weapons"), from arma, armorum ("weapons") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens (1866) This perfectly balanced, beautifully judged story both preys on both the anxiety provoked by the new technology of railways and deeply held beliefs that a ghost can be an alarum for events to follow.

    Kate Mosse's top 10 ghost stories

  • Congress referred this alarum to a committee, and in conference with the Financier decided that still another circular would be pointless.

    Robert Morris

  • On the night of January 3, 1935, the puddlers on Form B-1, at the upstream edge of the dam adjacent to the Arizona cliffside, heard this sinister alarum a split second before a full bucket came careening over the edge of the form.

    Colossus

  • I'm not trying to ring the alarum bells like Margaret Someville, for whom every advance in medicine and genetics threatens damnation.

    Painful memories

  • They should make it mandatory for use as telaphone ringtones, car honkifiers and all alarum clocks everywhare.

    IT’S - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • Some sounded the alarum, but no one wanted to hear it, so they were run off in shame.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Health bill and gun ownership

  • This is a fight for life or death — yon waterfall sounds the alarum for our conflict. —

    Anne of Geierstein

  • But he saw none of the ancient counsellors of the kingdom, none of the high officers of the crown, heard none of the names which in those days sounded an alarum to chivalry; saw none either of those generals or leaders, who, possessed of the full prime of manhood, were the strength of France, or of the more youthful and fiery nobles, those early aspirants after honour, who were her pride.

    Quentin Durward

  • Thx, Romeow for sounding teh generul alarum, and thx woodchuck for being a round peepul peepul catcher thingy!

    Look at me while iz talkin to u! - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • Oncet upon a time when I worked in a diffrent offis than whare I does now, someone not me burnded their mircowavy popcorms and it set off teh smoke alarum so teh firemans had to respond.

    File Transfering… - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

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  • "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, as Congreve noticed. Music hath alarums to wild the civil breast as well, as Tull Kupferberg pointed out. It is partly a matter of the mode of music, but then as well, something to do with the ears the music exists in."
    - 'Mozic And The Revolution', Germaine Greer in Oz, 1969.

    March 27, 2008