alarm


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to alarm: Alarm clocks
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

alarm bell

A sudden warning or intimation of danger, risk, or ill fortune. (Often pluralized.) Alarm bells were going off in my head when I saw the panicked expression on her face.
See also: alarm, bell

cause for alarm

A reason to be worried, frightened, or concerned about something. The X-ray showed a slight discoloration in my lungs, but my doctor assured me it was no cause for alarm. There was cause for alarm when we noticed our boss shredding all the files in her office.
See also: alarm, cause

sound the alarm

1. Literally, to activate an alarm. I think I see smoke coming from the warehouse. Someone run upstairs and sound the alarm!
2. To alert other people about something dangerous, risky, or troublesome. A number of top economic advisors tried to sound the alarm before the economic crash, but no policy makers seemed to heed their warnings.
See also: alarm, sound

raise the alarm

1. Literally, to activate an alarm. I think I see smoke coming from the warehouse. Someone run upstairs and raise the alarm!
2. To alert other people about something dangerous, risky, or troublesome. A number of top economic advisors tried to raise the alarm before the economic crash, but no policy makers seemed to heed their warnings.
See also: alarm, raise

I don't want to alarm you, but

 and I don't want to upset you, but
an expression used to introduce bad or shocking news or gossip. Bill: I don't want to alarm you, but I see someone prowling around your car. Mary: Oh, goodness! I'll call the police! Bob: I don't want to upset you, but I have some bad news. Tom: Let me have it.
See also: alarm, but, want

set off alarm bells

also ring alarm bells
to warn of trouble and the need for action The report about worldwide climate change should sound alarm bells in every community.
See also: alarm, bell, off, set

set (the) alarm bells ringing

if something sets alarm bells ringing, it makes you feel worried because it is a sign that there may be a problem Symptoms which should set alarm bells ringing are often ignored by doctors.
See also: alarm, bell, ring, set

a false alarm

a situation when you think that something bad or dangerous is going to happen but you discover you were wrong Someone called to say there was a bomb inside the building, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
See also: alarm, false

false alarm

A warning signal that is groundless, made either by mistake or as a deliberate deception. For example, The rumor that we were all going to get fired was just a false alarm, or Setting off a false alarm is a criminal offense. This expression, first recorded in 1579, today is often used for a report of a nonexistent fire.
See also: alarm, false

a three-alarm fire

and a five-alarm fire
n. someone or something very exciting. Work was a nightmare today. A five-alarm fire with crisis after crisis.
See also: fire

a five-alarm fire

verb
See also: fire
References in periodicals archive ?
Wireless Fire Alarm & Detection Systems Gains Prominence II-9
Honeywell proposes a holistic approach to alarm management
Perceived service alarm is a type of alarm that is correlated to performance level indicators.
A carbon monoxide alarm is a small investment that can prevent a lifetime of heartache.
A word of caution about alarms: Facilities need to communicate to alarm installers what staffs and residents' daily routine is (or will be, in new construction), so that the setup of alarm perimeters doesn't interfere.
Electronic alarm systems are considered the best burglary deterrent, according to a Consumer Reports survey.
Alarm call research is booming in two major areas, Blumstein says.
If the individual agrees, a detective installs the alarm, performs range tests on the portable unit, and provides the victim with operating instructions.
The False Alarm Reduction Fast Start Program was unanimously approved on August 26.
com service compliments traditional security alarm monitoring with wireless web-based control and notification.
Eighty-five percent of the nation's alarm systems generate no calls to the police in any given year," said Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition.
The company manufactures several models, among them a basic battery powered CO alarm; a battery powered combination CO/smoke alarm with voice warning, and an AC powered CO alarm with battery backup and bright LED digital display.
Few pipeline companies undertook the required alarm management improvement projects with return-on-investment (ROI) as a primary objective but instead were focused on compliance.
Install new batteries once a year or when the alarm chirps to warn that the batteries are dying.
The suggested retail price for the alarms ranges from $24.