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[tok-sin] /ˈtɒk sɪn/
a signal, especially of alarm, sounded on a bell or bells.
a bell used to sound an alarm.
Origin of tocsin
1580-90; < Middle French < Provençal tocasenh literally, (it) strikes (the) bell, equivalent to toca, 3rd singular present of tocar to strike, touch + senh bell, sign Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tocsin
  • In every city throughout the country thousands have watched eagerly for the sounding of the tocsin.
  • The tocsin sounds from the neighboring church, people run.
British Dictionary definitions for tocsin


an alarm or warning signal, esp one sounded on a bell
an alarm bell
Word Origin
C16: from French, from Old French toquassen, from Old Provençal tocasenh, from tocar to touch + senh bell, from Latin signum
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for tocsin

"alarm bell," 1580s, from Middle French toquassen "an alarm bell, the ringing of an alarm bell" (late 14c.), from Old Provençal tocasenh, from tocar "to strike" (from Vulgar Latin *toccare "strike a bell;" see touch) + senh "bell, bell note," from Late Latin signum "bell, ringing of a bell," in Latin "mark, signal." The current English spelling is from 1794, adopted from modern French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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