Meaning of ALARM in English

I. a ‧ larm 1 S2 /əˈlɑːm $ əˈlɑːrm/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: French ; Origin: alarme , from Old Italian all' arme 'to the weapon' ]

1 . [countable] a piece of equipment that makes a loud noise to warn you of danger:

I forgot to set the burglar alarm.

Car alarms are always going off in the street.

a sophisticated alarm system

2 . [uncountable] a feeling of fear or worry because something bad or dangerous might happen

alarm at

There is growing alarm at the increase in crime.

in alarm

She looked up in alarm.

Scientists have said there is no cause for alarm.

3 .

[countable] an alarm clock:

I’ve set the alarm for 7 o'clock.

I was still asleep when the alarm went off.

4 . raise/sound the alarm especially British English to warn people that something bad is happening:

Neighbours raised the alarm when they smelled smoke.

5 . alarm bells ring if alarm bells ring, you feel worried that something bad may be happening:

Alarm bells started to ring when he failed to return home.

⇨ ↑ false alarm

• • •



▪ a burglar alarm

Neighbours heard the burglar alarm and called the police.

▪ an intruder/a security alarm

The house has a system of security alarms.

▪ a fire/smoke alarm

A fire alarm went off and the building had to be evacuated.

▪ a car alarm (=for when someone tries to steal a car)

I was woken by a car alarm in the middle of the night.

▪ a baby alarm (=for when a baby wakes up and cries)

Is the baby alarm switched on?

▪ a personal alarm (=that you carry with you in case you are attacked)

If you are nervous, invest in a personal alarm.

■ alarm + NOUN

▪ an alarm button

He hit the alarm button under the desk.

▪ an alarm system

an electronic burglar alarm system

■ verbs

▪ set off/trigger/activate the alarm (=make it start ringing)

A window blew open, setting off the alarm.

▪ set the alarm (=make it ready to operate)

Did you set the burglar alarm?

▪ an alarm goes off ( also an alarm sounds formal )

The thieves fled when an alarm went off.

▪ switch/turn off the alarm

I entered the shop and switched off the alarm.

• • •


▪ fear a feeling of being frightened:

He was trembling with fear.


Fear of failure should not stop you trying.

▪ terror a feeling of great fear, because you think that something terrible is about to happen:

She let out a scream of pure terror.

▪ fright a sudden feeling of fear, or a situation that makes you feel this:

My body was shaking with fright.


You gave me a fright!


He’s had a bit of fright, that’s all.

▪ panic a sudden feeling of fear or nervousness that makes you unable to think clearly or behave sensibly:

She was in such a panic that she hardly knew what she was doing!


There were scenes of sheer panic immediately following the bomb blast.

▪ alarm a feeling of fear or worry which shows in your voice or behaviour, because you think something bad might happen:

When I mentioned her name, he looked up at me in alarm.


The streets were calm and there was no sign of alarm.

▪ foreboding /fɔːˈbəʊdɪŋ $ fɔːrˈboʊ-/ a feeling that something bad or unpleasant might happen although there is no obvious reason why it should:

She felt the same sense of foreboding she had before her father died.

▪ phobia /ˈfəʊbiə $ ˈfoʊ-/ a permanent strong unreasonable fear of something:

I had a phobia about going to the dentist.

II. alarm 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

to make someone feel worried or frightened:

I don’t want to alarm you, but I can’t find the key.

• • •


▪ frighten to make someone feel afraid:

The thought of being in court frightened him.

▪ scare especially spoken to frighten someone. Scare is less formal than frighten , and is the usual word to use in everyday English:

He was driving fast just to scare us.


It scared him to think that his mother might never recover.

▪ terrify to make someone feel extremely frightened:

The idea of going down into the caves terrified her.


Robbers terrified bank staff by threatening them at gunpoint.

▪ give somebody a fright to make someone suddenly feel frightened in a way that makes their heart beat more quickly:

It gave me a terrible fright when I found him unconscious on the floor.

▪ give somebody the creeps if a person or place gives you the creeps, they make you feel slightly frightened because they are strange:

This house gives me the creeps.

▪ startle to frighten someone. Used when you suddenly see someone and did not know they were there, or when you suddenly hear something:

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.


The noise startled him, and he dropped his glass on the floor.

▪ alarm to make someone feel frightened and worried that something bad might happen:

I didn’t want to alarm her by calling in the middle of the night.

▪ intimidate to deliberately frighten someone, especially so that they will do what you want:

Many of the gangs were using dogs to intimidate people.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.