Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Sudden fear or concern caused by the realization of danger or an impending setback. synonym: fear.
  • noun A warning of existing or approaching danger.
  • noun A device that is used to warn of danger by means of a sound or signal.
  • noun The sounding mechanism of an alarm clock.
  • noun A call to arms.
  • transitive verb To fill with alarm or anxious concern. synonym: frighten.
  • transitive verb To give warning to.
  • transitive verb To equip with or protect by an alarm.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy; hence, any sound, outcry, or information intended to give notice of approaching danger.
  • noun A hostile attack; a tumult; a broil; a disturbance.
  • noun A sudden fear or painful suspense excited by an apprehension of danger; apprehension; fright: as, there is nothing in his illness to cause alarm.
  • noun A warning sound; a signal for attention; an urgent call, summons, or notification.
  • noun A self-acting contrivance of any kind used to call attention, rouse from sleep, warn of danger, etc.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Fright, terror, and dismay are higher and perhaps equal degrees of fear; their difference is in kind and in effect.
  • noun Fright affects especially the nerves and senses, being generally the effect of sudden fear.
  • noun Terror may be a later form of fright, or independent and as sudden; it overpowers the understanding and unmans one.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Fright and terror are often the effect of undefined fears, as in superstition, and are especially used with reference to physical fear.
  • noun Consternation overwhelms the mental faculties by the suddenness or the utterly unexpected greatness of the danger.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A summons to arms, as on the approach of an enemy.
  • noun Any sound or information intended to give notice of approaching danger; a warning sound to arouse attention; a warning of danger.
  • noun rare A sudden attack; disturbance; broil.
  • noun Sudden surprise with fear or terror excited by apprehension of danger; in the military use, commonly, sudden apprehension of being attacked by surprise.
  • noun A mechanical contrivance for awaking persons from sleep, or rousing their attention; an alarum.
  • noun a bell that gives notice on danger.
  • noun a clock or watch which can be so set as to ring or strike loudly at a prearranged hour, to wake from sleep, or excite attention.
  • noun a contrivance attached to a steam boiler for showing when the pressure of steam is too high, or the water in the boiler too low.
  • noun a place to which troops are to repair in case of an alarm.
  • transitive verb 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 verb To keep in excitement; to disturb.
  • transitive verb To surprise with apprehension of danger; to fill with anxiety in regard to threatening evil; to excite with sudden fear.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • verb warn or arouse to a sense of danger or call to a state of preparedness

Etymologies

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

[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; see al- in Indo-European roots) + arme, arms (from Latin arma; see ar- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "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

  • 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

  • Originally from Italy:

    'All`arme' = to the weapons!

    April 26, 2008