alarums and excursions

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alarums and excursions pl (plural only)

  1. All the sounds and activities of preparations for war.
    • 1898, Henry Augustin Beers, chapter 11, in 18th Century: A History of English Romanticism:
      The French armies were not far off, and there were alarums and excursions all along the border.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) Any frantic activity.
    • 1922, J. S. Fletcher, chapter 19, in In the Mayor's Parlour:
      He had been well aware ever since his coming to Hathelsborough of an atmosphere of intrigue and mystery; every development that occurred seemed to thicken it. . . . It puzzled him, being still a stranger to the habits and customs of these people, to see that life in Hathelsborough went on, amidst all these alarums and excursions.

Usage notes[edit]

  • As a Shakespearean stage direction: Soldiers march across the stage, blowing bugles and beating drums, etc.