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[uh-lurt] /əˈlɜrt/
fully aware and attentive; wide-awake; keen:
an alert mind.
swift; agile; nimble.
an attitude of vigilance, readiness, or caution, as before an expected attack.
a warning or alarm of an impending military attack, a storm, etc.:
We'd just boarded the bus when the alert sounded.
the period during which such a warning or alarm is in effect.
verb (used with object)
to warn (troops, ships, etc.) to prepare for action.
to warn of an impending raid, attack, storm, etc.:
The radio alerted coastal residents to prepare for the hurricane.
to advise or warn; cause to be on guard:
to alert gardeners to the dangers of some pesticides.
on the alert, on guard against danger; in readiness; vigilant:
The state police are on the alert for an escaped convict believed to be in the area.
Origin of alert
1590-1600; 1940-45 for def 4; < Italian all'erta, equivalent to all(a) to, on the + erta lookout, watchtower, orig. feminine of erto, past participle of ergere < Latin ērigere to erect
Related forms
alertly, adverb
alertness, noun
hyperalert, adjective
unalerted, adjective
1. awake, wary, observant. Alert, vigilant, watchful imply a wide-awake attitude, as of someone keenly aware of his or her surroundings. Alert describes a ready and prompt attentiveness together with a quick intelligence: The tourist was alert and eager to see the sights. Vigilant suggests some immediate necessity for keen, active observation, and for continuing alertness: Knowing the danger, the scout was unceasingly vigilant. Watchful suggests carefulness and preparedness: watchful waiting. 2. brisk, lively, quick, active, sprightly, spirited.
1. unaware. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for alerting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But why were they searching for him, alerting the natives in an effort to scoop him up?

    The Time Traders Andre Norton
  • Instead of crippling the nation, they succeeded only in alerting it.

    The Last Gentleman Rory Magill
  • If he did strike, the warning teams would perform their brief mission, alerting the active, working members of the defense groups.

    Final Weapon Everett B. Cole
  • Here the song acquires the additional functions of alerting the female to danger and threatening the trespasser.

  • Instead it washed through his body, sharpening his reflexes and alerting his muscles for action.

    Delayed Action Charles Vincent De Vet
British Dictionary definitions for alerting


adjective (usually postpositive)
vigilantly attentive: alert to the problems
brisk, nimble, or lively
an alarm or warning, esp a siren warning of an air raid
the period during which such a warning remains in effect
on the alert
  1. on guard against danger, attack, etc
  2. watchful; ready: on the alert for any errors
verb (transitive)
to warn or signal (troops, police, etc) to prepare for action
to warn of danger, an attack, etc
Derived Forms
alertly, adverb
alertness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Italian all'erta on the watch, from erta lookout post, from ergere to build up, from Latin ērigere; see erect
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alerting



"on the watch," 1590s, from French alerte "vigilant" (17c.), from phrase à l'erte "on the watch," from Italian all'erta "to the height," from erta "lookout, high tower," noun use of fem. of erto, past participle of ergere "raise up," from Latin erigere "raise" (see erect). The adjective is attested from 1610s, the noun from 1803, and the verb from 1868. Related: Alerted; alerting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Related Abbreviations for alerting


Allergy to Latex Education and Resource Team
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with alerting


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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