alarums and excursions

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From a Shakespearean stage direction, indicating that soldiers should march across the stage, blowing bugles and beating drums, etc.


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.
    • 1991, Stephen King, Needful Things
      The various alarums and excursions in The Rock that early evening did not dent attendance at these meetings very much []