Cause for Alarm: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 18, 2023

People find the idiom "cause for alarm" intriguing, and it has become an integral part of the English language. It's a phrase many of us use without giving much thought to its origins or its meaning. This article delves into the intricacies of this idiom, exploring its meaning, history, and presence in pop culture.

In short:

"Cause for alarm" means a reason to feel worried or concerned.

What Does “Cause for Alarm” Mean?

People use the phrase "cause for alarm" to show they have a reason to feel worried, concerned, or anxious about something. It suggests that there is a valid reason for feeling alarmed or distressed.

  • This phrase often points to immediate dangers or threats.
  • People also use it in a figurative sense to express concerns or worries about non-life-threatening situations.

For instance, if someone notices smoke coming from a building, they might say, "That's a cause for alarm," suggesting that there might be a fire. On the other hand, if a student is failing multiple subjects in school, a parent might say, "Your grades are a cause for alarm," indicating concern about the student's academic performance.

Where Does “Cause for Alarm” Come From?

The word "alarm" comes from the Old Italian word "all'arme," meaning "to arms" or "to the weapons." It was a call to arms when there was a threat or danger. Over time, the term evolved to represent any warning or cause for concern.

Historical Example

"It served as an apology for me to ride close up to her, as if to her assistance. There was, however, no cause for alarm: it was not a stumble, nor a false step..."

- Host Bibliographic Record for Boundwith Item Barcode, 1818

10 Examples of “Cause for Alarm” in Sentences

Understanding an idiom becomes easier when we see it in action. Here are ten sentences showcasing the use of "cause for alarm":

  • Before making a final call on the project's viability, we need to test if there's any cause for alarm.
  • I think so, the sudden drop in sales is a cause for alarm for the company.
  • The company's declining sales are a definite cause for alarm.
  • Many chose to look aside, but the environmentalists saw deforestation as a genuine cause for alarm.
  • If the alarm goes off at night, it's a cause for alarm, and you should call the police.
  • The strange noise from the engine is a cause for alarm and needs immediate attention.
  • Hardcore fans expressed their cause for alarm when the band announced a sudden hiatus.
  • Missing the deadline might be a cause for alarm for the project team.
  • If we slip back in our quarterly goals, it will be a cause for alarm for the stakeholders.
  • In summary, the data indicates a cause for alarm in the declining user engagement.

Examples of “Cause for Alarm” in Pop Culture

"Cause for alarm" has also made its presence felt in pop culture:

  • "Cause for Alarm" is a novel by Eric Ambler. Published in 1938, the book is set in Italy and is one of Ambler's classic spy thrillers.
  • In Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax," there's a line: “There's no cause for alarm,” he reasons with the Lorax, “I chopped just one tree.” As the story progresses, the character harvests more trees due to increasing demand for his product.
  • In the movie "Everyone Says I Love You," a character says: "Everybody panicked. There's no cause for alarm. There was a blockage in the artery, but it's been dissolved. There's no problem? No, he's fine."
  • "Cause for Alarm" is a song by Agnostic Front. The band, known for its hardcore punk and crossover thrash genres, has included this track in their discography.
  • The Heavy, a British rock band, has a song titled "Cause for Alarm."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “Cause for Alarm"

Language is rich and diverse, and there are several ways to convey the idea of "cause for alarm." Some synonyms include:

  • Reason for concern
  • Grounds for worry
  • Matter of anxiety
  • Source of distress
  • Basis for unease

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Cause for Alarm”:

  • What does "cause for alarm" mean?

It refers to a reason to be worried or concerned about something.

  • Is "cause for alarm" used in everyday language?

Yes, it's a commonly used idiom in English to express concern or worry.

  • Can "cause for alarm" be used in a positive context?

Typically, it's used to indicate concern or worry, so it's more often used in negative or neutral contexts.

  • Are there any movies titled "cause for alarm"?

Yes, there's a 1951 film titled "Cause for Alarm!" which is a suspense thriller.

  • How can I use "cause for alarm" in a sentence?

You can say, "The sudden noise was a cause for alarm."

  • Is "cause for alarm" an old idiom?

While the exact origins are unclear, the term "alarm" has been in use for centuries, indicating that the idiom might be quite old.

  • Can "cause for alarm" be used in formal writing?

Yes, it's appropriate for both formal and informal contexts.

  • Is "cause for alarm" used globally?

While it's a common English idiom, its usage might vary across different cultures and regions.

  • Are there songs with the title "cause for alarm"?

Yes, several artists have songs with titles or lyrics that reference "cause for alarm". For example, "Cause For Alarm" by The Heavy. 

  • What's the opposite of "cause for alarm"?

Phrases like "no reason for concern" or "nothing to worry about" can be considered opposites.

Final Thoughts about “Cause for Alarm”

Idioms breathe life into a language, making it more colorful and relatable. "Cause for Alarm" is one such idiom that beautifully captures the essence of concern or worry. Its widespread use, from everyday conversations to pop culture references, is a testament to its relevance and popularity.

  • Definition: The phrase signifies a reason to feel worried, concerned, or frightened about a situation.
  • Usage: You can use it literally and figuratively, mainly to emphasize potential dangers or worries.
  • Origins:  Though we don't know its exact origins, we can trace its use to literature and writings from centuries ago.
  • Pop Culture: The idiom has made its mark in movies, music, and other entertainment mediums, further cementing its place in popular culture.
  • Synonyms: Several synonymous expressions like "reason for concern" and "wake-up call" convey a similar sentiment.

As we continue to communicate and share stories, idioms like "cause for alarm" will remain integral, adding depth and nuance to our conversations.

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