Definition of alarm noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//əˈlɑːm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//əˈlɑːrm//
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  1. 1  [uncountable] fear and anxiety that somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ‘What have you done?’ Ellie cried in alarm. I felt a growing sense of alarm when he did not return that night. The doctor said there was no cause for alarm. Synonymsfearterror panic alarm frightThese are all words for the bad feeling you have when you are afraid.fear the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger, when something bad might happen, or when a particular thing frightens you:(a) fear of flying She showed no fear.terror a feeling of extreme fear:Her eyes were wild with terror.panic a sudden feeling of great fear that cannot be controlled and prevents you from thinking clearly:I had a sudden moment of panic.alarm fear or worry that somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen:The doctor said there was no cause for alarm.fright a feeling of fear, usually sudden:She cried out in fright.fear or fright? Fright is a reaction to something that has just happened or is happening now. Use fear, but not fright, to talk about things that always frighten you and things that may happen in the future:I have a fright of spiders. his fright of what might happenPatterns a fear/​terror of something in fear/​terror/​panic/​alarm/​fright fear/​terror/​panic/​alarm that… to be filled with fear/​terror/​panic/​alarm a feeling of fear/​terror/​panic/​alarm
  2. 2  [countable, usually singular] a loud noise or a signal that warns people of danger or of a problem She decided to sound the alarm (= warn people that the situation was dangerous). I hammered on all the doors to raise the alarm. By the time the alarm was raised the intruders had escaped. see also false alarm
  3. 3  [countable] a device that warns people of a particular danger a burglar/fire/smoke alarm The cat set off the alarm (= made it start ringing). A car alarm went off in the middle of the night (= started ringing).
  4. 4[countable] a ringing sound or a tune played by a clock or your phone after you have set it to play at a particular time to wake you up The alarm went off at 7 o'clock.
  5. Word Originlate Middle English (as an exclamation meaning ‘to arms!’): from Old French alarme, from Italian allarme, from all' arme! ‘to arms!’.Extra examples Carry a personal alarm with you and make sure you know how to use it. He loves spreading alarm and despondency. He shouted out in alarm. His face registered no alarm at all when I told him the news. I see no cause for alarm, as she often arrives late. I set my alarm for 6.30. Lizzie was carrying a rape alarm but it was out of reach in her handbag. Many birds give alarm calls to warn of danger. Many people have expressed alarm at the plans. Suddenly the alarm sounded and they all had to leave the building. The fire brigade recommends that every house is fitted with a smoke alarm. The fire service was called out, but it was a false alarm. The guard raised the alarm when he discovered that six prisoners had escaped. The head teacher’s policies have provoked alarm among parents. The incident created serious public alarm. The news has been greeted with alarm. There has been considerable alarm about the new proposals. There is growing public alarm at this increase in crime. To her parents’ alarm, she announced that she intended to travel the world. Unfortunately any little noise can set off the alarm. ‘What have you done?’ Ellie cried in alarm. A car alarm went off in the middle of the night. All new houses must be fitted with a smoke alarm. I hammered on all the doors to raise the alarm. Soldier termites sound an alarm by beating their large heads on passage walls. The doctor said there was no cause for alarm. The earthquake set off burglar alarms throughout the city.Idioms
    alarm bells ring/start ringing
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    if you say that alarm bells are ringing, you mean that people are starting to feel worried and suspicious The government’s proposal has set alarm bells ringing for people on low incomes.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: alarm