alarm(redirected from alarms)
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't want to alarm you, butand 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.
set off alarm bellsalso 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.
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.
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.
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.
a three-alarm fireand 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 fireverb
See also: fire