alarm

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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

false alarm

A benign situation initially mistaken for an emergency. Mary thought she was going into labor, but it turned out to be a false alarm. When the smoke detectors started beeping, we thought the building was on fire, but it was just a false alarm caused by faulty wiring.
See also: alarm, false

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 ?
In addition, personal alarms are considerably louder than medical-grade, anti-fall monitors because they are designed to scare away a would be perpetrator.
Yet Natural Car Alarms is to date the most complete liaison of nature and culture in Katchadourian's work.
False alarms were draining our patrol resources, comprising 12 percent of all dispatched calls.
Best practices, according to the guide, include requiring alarm companies to visually verify alarm legitimacy before calling police and charging a fee for service for all false holdup, duress, and panic alarms, as Salt Lake City, Utah, does.
Condition-oriented alarms, which is the new name for "traditional.
Investigators hoped that aggressive response to selected alarms at banks and supermarkets during these critical times would result in preventing burglaries or in apprehending the thieves.
Wave Alarm for Android and iOS helps take the frustration out of the very first thing you do in the morning - turn off your alarm.
Last month, the Michael Ewart Smoke Alarm Foundation had its first outreach efforts at a soccer game where Michael and friends handed out fliers reminding people to change the batteries in their home smoke alarms.
First Alert is proud to lead the way by providing UL listed carbon monoxide alarms that offer the highest level of protection and accuracy.
These false alarms are annoying to staff and expose the residents to unnecessary, meaningless noise.
A basic wired system includes alarms on outside doors and windows, motion sensors in key areas, an alarm and/or bright lights and a connection to a central station.
If surrounded in the wild by unrelated ground squirrels, the females raise no alarms.
Even more tragic is that many such incidents end in homicides that the law enforcement community could have possibly prevented by providing their at-risk citizens with an alarm device that they can carry with them.
Designed to "reduce demand on limited police resources and enhance the effectiveness of all alarm systems," the program suggests comprehensive steps to be taken by alarm installers, users, manufacturers, and police to lower the frequency of false alarms.
This Frost & Sullivan research service titled European Social Alarms Markets offers an analysis of key market drivers, technology trends and market shares of major participants in the market.