Definition of tocsin in US English:



  • An alarm bell or signal.

    ‘he used his resignation as a tocsin to warn of the danger of dictatorship’
    • ‘And while tocsins sounded all over Paris, the dead were carted through the Saint-Antoine district, accompanied by witnesses to the massacre shouting ‘Vengeance!’’
    • ‘The ringing of the tocsin, notoriously the call to insurrection since the memorable journées of 1789, marked the seizure of power in the small hours of the tenth by the central committee of the sections.’
    • ‘They feature oscillating messages hinting at items up for bid and close with a tocsin in receding text: ‘Going, Going, Gone.’’
    • ‘It is built around the word that rings like a tocsin repeatedly through the piece: materialism.’
    • ‘Some, whether religious or liberal-humanist, have sounded the tocsin so loudly that many governments have enacted or revived laws which penalise the vilification of religion, especially Islam.’
    ringing, chime, carillon, toll, tolling, peal, knell
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Late 16th century: from Old French toquassen, from Provençal tocasenh, from tocar ‘to touch’ + senh ‘signal bell’.