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.
- 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.
- (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 […]