Definition of alarm in English:



  • 1An anxious awareness of danger.

    ‘the boat tilted and the boatmen cried out in alarm’
    ‘he views the right-wing upsurge in Europe with alarm’
    • ‘Seeing the approaching danger, Christian cried out in alarm, and loosed his grip on his short sword.’
    • ‘Ken looked above him in alarm and watched in shock as dirt, stones, support beams, all toppled on top of Ken, completely burying him alive.’
    • ‘Ri shrieked in alarm and jumped, shocked to find Kasna standing in the far corner.’
    • ‘Beth Rodden calls out in alarm from the other portaledge.’
    • ‘Ten seconds before Jasper comes in and barks in alarm.’
    • ‘Occasionally we can see young men reacting to the declaration of pregnancy, always with alarm and fear.’
    • ‘‘Naturally, any criminal incident is greeted with alarm by members of the business community,’ he said.’
    • ‘The duke meanwhile enjoyed the vision she made, eyes wild and blue with alarm, lips slightly open in complete shock.’
    • ‘His voice was strident with alarm, and his beautiful eyes were dark with fear.’
    • ‘Far from flying off in alarm at my approach, as just about any other bird would, this specimen of Cathartes aura greeted me with the avian equivalent of a yawn.’
    • ‘She turned around in alarm, fearing he had taken off and was really going to follow through with his joke of leaving her by herself.’
    • ‘But some health policy experts view the plan with alarm.’
    • ‘This week we all start operating in the energy field of the Crab, who skitters sideways in alarm when approached directly.’
    • ‘There were raised voices in alarm all over the complex and a few cries of fear.’
    • ‘On the other side of the Limpopo, South Africa must be watching events with alarm; the last thing its government needs is a neighbour and trading partner in economic freefall.’
    • ‘Their cries became stained with alarm and horror at the departing children.’
    • ‘A quietness followed my outburst; even the chickens stopped clucking and tilted their heads in alarm briefly.’
    • ‘We cannot help but wonder with alarm: how many more colleagues with some sense of shame and conscience will follow the footsteps of Li Fang?’
    • ‘Leanne's nervous system halted as she listened in alarm.’
    • ‘Although no one could figure out where exactly he disappeared to under cover of the darkness, the neighbourhood woke up in alarm at midnight to find Pehlad's house on fire.’
    fear, anxiety, apprehension, trepidation, nervousness, unease, distress, agitation, consternation, disquiet, perturbation, fright, panic, dread, horror, shock, terror
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    1. 1.1[in singular]A warning of danger.
      ‘I hammered on several doors to raise the alarm’
      ‘Oliver smelled smoke and gave the alarm’
      • ‘He reached South Georgia, but landed on the wrong side of the island and had to cross 26 miles of mountainous terrain, before reaching a whaling station to raise the alarm.’
      • ‘He spent several hours searching the mountainside for his brother, an experienced walker, before descending to raise the alarm from a public phone box.’
      • ‘She eventually managed to stop a passing motorist in the early hours yesterday and raise the alarm.’
      • ‘After walking almost three miles, Reeve telephoned to raise the alarm and 10 members of Torridon Mountain Rescue team were called out.’
      • ‘The two-year-old Labrador can open doors, turn on lights, pick up dropped items and raise the alarm if something is wrong with Luke.’
      • ‘He gave the alarm and Miss Minnie Moore, housekeeper of the hotel, ran from room to room - sometimes in dense smoke - to rouse other occupants.’
      • ‘Coastguards were alerted by the woman's friend, a 14-year-old girl, who managed to swim ashore to raise the alarm.’
      • ‘She managed to free herself and raise the alarm after a passing motorcyclist gave her a lift to the police station.’
      • ‘Mr Wynn, an 18-year-old archaeology student at the University of York, managed to escape and raise the alarm.’
      • ‘Mr Rushton contacted his wife to raise the alarm.’
      • ‘Jeff Griffiths, 61, was one of the first to raise the alarm.’
      • ‘While the current version can only raise the alarm, it could be adapted to corner an intruder if the customer wanted…’
      • ‘I'm going to continue to raise the alarm because I really believe our future in the aerospace industry is at stake.’
      • ‘The issue needs a bit more investigation, before we raise the alarm, but this is a potentially important economic development.’
      • ‘The teenager's friend ran to nearby houses to raise the alarm.’
      • ‘The Guards strove to advance still closer to their quarry, but a crackling stick gave the alarm and some six or seven men around the still sped off across the bog in two groups.’
      • ‘THE LIFE of a Freehold youngster was saved by a revolutionary new system designed to raise the alarm when swimmers get into difficulties.’
      • ‘He tried to use his phone to raise the alarm but was not able to get a signal so he hammered on the door of the house.’
      • ‘British Telecom has apologised after a petrol station worker being held by a knifeman couldn't raise the alarm because the phonelines were broken.’
      • ‘Community officers working in Warminster are now urging residents to look out for elderly relatives and raise the alarm if they see suspicious callers.’
      siren, warning sound, alarm signal, danger signal, distress signal, alert
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    2. 1.2A warning sound or device.
      ‘they disabled the alarm and used a glass cutter to get in’
      • ‘Noise in the environment makes it difficult to hear alarms or easily determine where the alarm is located.’
      • ‘His apparent failure to notice that the pressure system was still on manual reportedly resulted in a warning alarm being sounded at 10,000 ft.’
      • ‘"From now on I shall not be keeping any cash here overnight and I am getting alarms installed."’
      • ‘North Vancouver City has added a bit more bite to its noise bylaw when it comes to unattended ongoing vehicle alarms and booming bass sounds coming from cars or nightclubs.’
      • ‘For peace of mind, the properties come with wiring for a security alarm, and two inter-connected smoke detectors on the landing.’
      • ‘If the alarm is set off the light on the main panel will let you know which zone the intruder is in.’
      • ‘We discussed all types of alarms and safety devices for the elderly.’
      • ‘His father was asleep upstairs, but he heard the alarm and rushed down to rescue his son.’
      • ‘The thieves would survey a shop using stolen vehicles and then set off its alarms and disable security devices at night.’
      • ‘As the alarms sounded, I saw masses of black smoke billowing out and realised it was serious.’
      • ‘The company claimed the alarms and devices they sold had been approved by the council, the police and even local trading standards officers.’
      • ‘Fire officers pleaded with the 30-plus residents at the centre to stop ignoring the alarms when they go off, claiming that lives could be put at risk.’
      • ‘Thieves gained entry by disconnecting the security alarm and forcing their entry through the rear door.’
      • ‘Halfway across the Pacific, computer alarms also sounded and staff pagers beeped at a seismic centre in Honolulu.’
      • ‘The two things that struck him most during his first visit here were the sound of dogs barking at night and the sound of car alarms.’
      • ‘Motoring experts say it has been largely prompted by increased vehicle security, with sophisticated alarms and locking devices making it harder for thieves to steal valuable cars.’
      • ‘This alarm will sound whenever a door is opened, and is designed to alert parents to small children who may have entered the pool area unnoticed.’
      • ‘Shoppers were forced to evacuate into the pouring rain on Monday afternoon when the alarms sounded.’
      • ‘No alarm was sounded at the hospital to indicate any emergency.’
      • ‘Constantly sounding alarms can be a serous nuisance to neighbours.’
      alarm bell, warning bell, danger signal
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    3. 1.3An alarm clock.
      • ‘The alarm offers a 10 minute snooze feature.’
      • ‘Or rather, I watch my watch, because I can't find a clock anywhere in the room, not even for an alarm.’
      • ‘There's nothing quite like the shock of the alarm going off in the morning.’
      • ‘It's like a Hospital-you can hear the pipes in the walls humming, the air circulating; everyone has switched their alarms off because it's Saturday.’
      • ‘I usually have a mental alarm and don't need a clock to wake up.’
      • ‘Compare radio alarm prices, read radio alarm clock reviews and check online store ratings.’
      • ‘Though the call wasn’t mine it managed to work well and I found it impossible to go back to sleep until minutes before my own alarm went off.’
      • ‘It's a classic Swiss Army knife with lots of different blades and stuff, but it's updated with a digital clock, alarm, and stopwatch.’
      • ‘For example, the Datalink comes with a chronograph, countdown timer, interval timer, multiple alarms and even a notepad.’
      • ‘Alarms can be set to different stations or to a simple alarm tone and alarm volume set independently of main radio volume.’
      • ‘Just as some people awake at the same time each day whether or not they set an alarm, Matta has an internal shot clock.’
      • ‘It even comes with an alarm, a clock, and the ability to store up to 10 of your favorite stations in each of the three frequencies.’
      • ‘The alarm can also play any sound you choose and includes a handy snooze button.’
      • ‘Each alarm can have multiple schedules.’
      • ‘Clocky Robotic Alarm - Awesome robotic alarm clock to wake you up!’
      • ‘It's like a silent alarm ringing on a carefully coded genetic clock.’
      • ‘More gentle than the jarring noise of traditional alarms, this clock uses a gradual increase in ambient light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful sounds from nature to awaken sleepers.’
      • ‘The snooze button may be pushed to silence an alarm for a pre-determined length of time.’
      • ‘We have begun selling a line of bedside alarms.’
      • ‘An alarm can be set to go off once, daily, weekly, monthly or annually, with very flexible scheduling.’


  • 1[with object] Cause (someone) to feel frightened, disturbed, or in danger.

    ‘the government was alarmed by an outbreak of unrest’
    • ‘It surprises and alarms me that Australians are still divided on this matter.’
    • ‘Notice it alarms her - but not enough to stop her sticking these women on her covers.’
    • ‘If this alarms you, listen to what Central Ground Water Board experts have to say.’
    • ‘I'm sure I alarm my friends just as Fred alarms me.’
    • ‘As a generalist, this alarms me somewhat.’
    • ‘I know this happens much more frequently and intensely in winter but it still alarms me how many days I feel deflated right now.’
    • ‘It is this positive change at the grassroots level of American society which amazes, and somewhat alarms the followers of other religions there.’
    • ‘[(d)] rowdy behaviour in the streets late at night which alarms local residents.’
    • ‘The lack of oversight alarms some members of Congress.’
    • ‘The arrogance and finality of these statements alarms me.’
    • ‘The thing that really alarms me about all this is the utter brazenness with which the loot is being divvied up now.’
    • ‘As well as being worried about his command of English, the implicit danger of stereotyping alarms him.’
    • ‘A man accused of practising martial arts in a town centre told a court he did not mean to frighten or alarm anyone.’
    • ‘If it alarms you to have to listen to an engineer, let me reassure you.’
    • ‘Should we be interested in following a child we are made to believe is capable of loving even though our cognition constantly alarms us that it is not?’
    • ‘So I can't be entirely down on therapy, but all this rampant self-obsession still alarms me.’
    • ‘All this alarms many observers of global conflict.’
    • ‘Clearly the content of this speech was chilling, but what alarms me more is the cold robotic way he delivered it.’
    • ‘For example, if you oppose executions, the number of people on death row recently cleared by DNA evidence probably alarms you.’
    • ‘Mr Lovejoy says its labelling rules already allow a GM content in food of anything less than one per to be disregarded and the threat of contamination alarms him.’
    frightening, startling, unnerving, shocking, hair-raising
    distressing, upsetting, disconcerting, perturbing, dismaying, disquieting, daunting, disturbing, harrowing
    fearsome, dreadful, monstrous, forbidding, appalling, chilling, terrifying, petrifying
    frighten, scare, panic, startle, unnerve, distress, agitate, upset, fluster, ruffle, disconcert, shock, daunt, dismay, disturb, work up, terrify, terrorize, petrify, make someone's blood run cold
    put the wind up someone, rattle, spook, scare the living daylights out of
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  • 2Be fitted or protected with an alarm.

    ‘this door is locked and alarmed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.’
    • ‘The second point is very important because even if your car is locked and alarmed, it is still at risk if there are valuables on view.’
    • ‘After all if your house is alarmed and another house just up the road isn't then your house is a lot less likely to get targeted.’
    • ‘One is the home, now triple-bolted, alarmed and window-locked against intruders.’
    • ‘Is the building alarmed?’
    • ‘The room where kit is stored is locked and alarmed at night, but during the day people have free access.’


Late Middle English (as an exclamation meaning to arms!): from Old French alarme, from Italian allarme, from all' arme! to arms!.