alarm n
1 Alarm, tocsin, alert agree in meaning a signal that serves as a call to action or to be on guard especially in a time of imminent danger.
Alarm is used of any signal that arouses to activity not only troops, but emergency workers (as firemen, policemen); it suggests a sound such as a cry, a pealing of a bell, a beating of drums, or a siren

sound a fire alarm


the dog’s barking gave the alarm

Tocsin may be either an alarm sounded by bells usually from the belfry of a church or, more often, the bells sounding an alarm

the loud tocsin tolled their last alarm— Campbell

but is used figuratively for any sort of warning of danger.
Alert, a military term for a signal to be on guard and ready for expected enemy action, is often used for any warning of danger

sirens sounded an air-raid alert


the Weather Bureau issued a tornado alert in the early afternoon . . . . The alert was cancelled after 5 p.m.— Springfield Union

It may also denote the state of readiness called for by the signal or warning or the period during which this is maintained

an abandon-ship alert was signaled. Warning for that . . . was to be four blasts of the ships whistle— Lowell Bennett


a peacetime round-the-clock alert against surprise aerial attack— A. Y. Times

2 fright, *fear, panic, terror, horror, dismay, dread, consternation, trepidation
Analogous words: frightening, scaring, startling (see FRIGHTEN): agitation, perturbation, upset (see corresponding verbs at DISCOMPOSE)
Antonyms: assurance: composure
Contrasted words: calmness, tranquillity, serenity (see corresponding adjectives at CALM): self-possession, self-assurance (see CONFIDENCE): *equanimity, sangfroid
alarm vb *frighten, fright, scare, startle, terrify, affright, terrorize, affray
Analogous words: appall, daunt, horrify, *dismay: *surprise, astound, amaze, astonish
Antonyms: assure: relieve
Contrasted words: *comfort, solace, console

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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