a wake-up call
1. A phone call that one schedules to be placed to one's hotel room in order to be woken up at a certain time. I set an alarm and scheduled a wake-up call so there's no way I oversleep for the first conference session tomorrow.
2. An event that triggers a sense of urgency or the motivation to make a change. Harold's sudden chest pain was the wake-up call he needed to finally see his doctor. That terrible car accident was just the wake-up call I needed to quit my boring office job and start acting again.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a wake-up call
COMMON A wake-up call is something which shocks people, making them understand how serious a problem is and causing them to take action in order to solve that problem. These extreme weather patterns should act as a wake-up call to our complacent leaders. Climate change is happening and we need to act now. The report is intended as a wake-up call for governments around the world to take action to improve healthcare resources for young people. Note: If you have a wake-up call, you arrange for someone to telephone you at a certain time in the morning so that you are sure to wake up at that time.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a ˈwake-up callan event that makes people realize that they must take action in a dangerous situation: The recent storms and floods have been a wake-up call for many people about the reality of climate change.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017