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causing or fear:
an alarming case of pneumonia; an alarming lack of respect.
a sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger; apprehension; fright.
any sound, outcry, or information intended to warn of approaching danger:
Paul Revere raced through the countryside raising the alarm that the British were coming.
an automatic device that serves to call attention, to rouse from sleep, or to warn of fire, smoke, an intruder, etc.
a warning sound; signal for attention.
Animal Behavior. any sound, outcry, chemical discharge, action, or other signal that functions to draw attention to a potential predator.
Fencing. an appeal or a challenge made by a step or stamp on the ground with the advancing foot.
Archaic. a call to arms.
to make fearful or apprehensive; distress.
to warn of danger; rouse to vigilance and swift measures for safety.
to fit or equip with an alarm or alarms, as for fire, smoke, or robbery:
to alarm one’s house and garage.
Contemporary Examples

But what the papers told him was alarming: that Britain is sliding towards an entirely new kind of surveillance society.
The Week’s Best Longreads for October 5, 2013 David Sessions October 4, 2013

He could mimic printed text with alarming accuracy and dissociate the shapes and lines from their inherent meanings.
The Accidental Artist Rachel Wolff October 14, 2009

As alarming as parents might find those results, Dr. Temple cautions against jumping to any drastic conclusions.
Sexting Is the New ‘First Base’ Russell Saunders October 8, 2014

The biggest concern appears to be the gap between rich and poor, which over the past decade has grown to alarming proportions.
The Rise of China’s First Families Melinda Liu November 13, 2012

But at 93 percent, the most alarming number is also the most dangerous: driving.
What to Answer: Your Phone or Your Wife? Abby Haglage March 18, 2014

Historical Examples

Meanwhile the duck was stretched to an alarming length between them.
Followers of the Trail Zoe Meyer

Josephine’s excitement and alternations of hope and fear were now alarming.
White Lies Charles Reade

But she was attacked at once with grave and alarming symptoms, that betokened a fatal end to her malady.
The Poems of Emma Lazarus Emma Lazarus

Their alarming state of affairs at the close of the year 1757.
The Loyalists of America and Their Times, Vol. 2 of 2 Edgerton Ryerson

And finally, there was a cut-and-thrust sword of alarming dimensions.
Jack Harkaway’s Boy Tinker Among The Turks Bracebridge Hemyng

verb (transitive)
to fill with apprehension, anxiety, or fear
to warn about danger; alert
to fit or activate a burglar alarm on a house, car, etc
fear or terror aroused by awareness of danger; fright
apprehension or uneasiness: the idea of failing filled him with alarm
a noise, signal, etc, warning of danger
any device that transmits such a warning: a burglar alarm

the device in an alarm clock that triggers off the bell or buzzer
short for alarm clock

(archaic) a call to arms
(fencing) a warning or challenge made by stamping the front foot

early 14c., from Old French alarme (14c.), from Italian all’arme “to arms!” (literally “to the arms”). An interjection that came to be used as the word for the call or warning (cf. alert). Extended 16c. to “any sound to warn of danger or to arouse.” Weakened sense of “apprehension, unease” is from 1833. Variant alarum is due to the rolling -r- in the vocalized form. Sometimes in early years anglicized as all-arm. Alarm clock is attested from 1690s (as A Larum clock).

1580s, from alarm (n.). Related: Alarmed; alarming.
air-launched antiradiation missile

a particular quivering sound of the silver trumpets to give warning to the Hebrews on their journey through the wilderness (Num. 10:5, 6), a call to arms, or a war-note (Jer. 4:19; 49:2; Zeph. 1:16).

see: false alarm


Read Also:

  • Alarmingly

    causing or fear: an alarming case of pneumonia; an alarming lack of respect. Contemporary Examples The experience put her in a mental hospital, where, alarmingly, she asked her visiting father to beat her. Year of the Short Story Taylor Antrim March 24, 2009 There are now about 1,000 tanks at the plant, but water continues […]

  • Alarmist

    a person who tends to raise , especially without sufficient reason, as by exaggerating dangers or prophesying calamities. of or like an alarmist. Contemporary Examples His 2008 campaign left the alarmist congressman with a fanatical following, a national organization, and clout. Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential Dilemma Patricia Murphy April 3, 2011 Brzezinski is by no […]

  • Alarum

    . Historical Examples Their guide, light-eyed for scares, seemed to know them all, and reserved his alarum for signs in the sky invisible to the party. Love and Lucy Maurice Henry Hewlett There he kept it with his breath subdued, and the alarum severely quelled. Doom Castle Neil Munro The seven o’clock alarum woke him […]

  • Alarums and excursions

    (especially in Elizabethan drama) military action, as representative fragments of a battle, sound effects of trumpets, or clash of arms: used as a stage direction. any noisy, frantic, or disorganized activity.

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