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

  • n. An alarm sounded on a bell.
  • n. A bell used to sound an alarm.
  • n. A warning; an omen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An alarm or other signal sounded by a bell or bells, especially with reference to France.
  • n. A bell used to sound an alarm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An alarm bell, or the ringing of a bell for the purpose of alarm.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A signal given by means of a bell or bells; especially, a signal of alarm or of need; hence, any warning note or signal.
  • n. A bell used to sound an alarm; an alarm-bell.
  • n. Milit., an alarm-drum formerly used as a signal for charging.

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

  • n. the sound of an alarm (usually a bell)
  • n. a bell used to sound an alarm


French, alteration of toquassen, from Old French touque-sain, from Old Provençal tocasenh : tocar, to strike (from Vulgar Latin *toccāre) + senh, bell (from Late Latin signum, from Latin, signal; see sign).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French toquesain (modern tocsin), from Provençal tocasenh, from tocar ‘strike, touch’ + senh ‘bell’. (Wiktionary)



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