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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 alertly
Historical Examples
  • Men who had clung through the hours to their saddles by sheer will power alone, tightened their lines and were alertly alive.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
  • Braybrooke looked suddenly surprised and then alertly observant.

    December Love Robert Hichens
  • “Probably he was the one who sent the letter,” said Penny alertly.

    Clue of the Silken Ladder Mildred A. Wirt
  • After a pause, Sam alertly remarked, We have not kept a lookout.

    An Oregon Girl Alfred Ernest Rice
  • Every slightest turn had to be alertly chosen, and the tangle of branches and vines made going by the stars nearly impossible.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • He had the appearance of alertly listening, listening, for what?

    The Apartment Next Door William Andrew Johnston
  • She was now staring with wide, eager eyes down the street, alertly watching the approach of anyone who came from that direction.

    The Husbands of Edith George Barr McCutcheon
  • The lords of the Church nodded, looked sleepily or alertly benevolent.

    Foes Mary Johnston
  • She paid no attention at first to the advancing hunters, save to alertly elude the many efforts to cast a noose over her head.

  • Possibly the uncle may have some suspicion of why she is moving about so alertly, and besides looking so pleased like.

    Gwen Wynn Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for alertly


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 alertly

1787, from alert + -ly (2).



"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 alertly


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 alertly


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