alarm bell

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See also: alarm-bell



alarm bell (plural alarm bells)

  1. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see alarm,‎ bell.
    • 2000, James Hadley Chase, An Ear to the Ground
      He put his foot on a concealed button under his desk and rang an alarm bell. He always had two strongarm men lolling around in an office down the passage.
  2. (figuratively, usually in the plural) A sudden awareness of danger.
    • 1998, Michele Gillespie, Catherine Clinton, Taking off the white gloves: Southern women and women historians
      The specter of women in factories, women in schoolrooms, and women attending — a lot less addressing — public meetings set off alarm bells in the South.
    • 2010, John M Findley, Just Lucky
      I only got a glimpse of him, but alarm bells went off. He wasn't rushing over to give me a pat on the back for stopping to help.
    • 2011 October 1, Tom Fordyce, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 16-12 Scotland”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      England were shipping penalties at an alarming rate - five in the first 15 minutes alone - and with Wilkinson missing three long-distance pots of his own in the first 20 minutes, the alarm bells began to ring for Martin Johnson's men.