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false alarm

noun
1.
a false report of a fire in progress to a fire department.
2.
something that excites unfounded alarm or expectation:
Rumors of an impending transit strike proved to be a false alarm.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for false alarm
  • Instead, when nearby monkeys dropped their food and ran, the one that had sounded the false alarm moved in to scoop up the bounty.
  • Perhaps at that point, law enforcement personnel might have had reason to believe that this was a false alarm.
  • If the home-loving citizen would sit down and think about it, he would realize that this is a false alarm.
  • They were afraid, they believed they were in danger, though maybe it was all a false alarm.
  • And half of these thefts involved a false alarm that fooled the target into seeking cover from a non-existent threat.
  • After a false alarm which turned out to be a transmission from an aircraft, no signals of extraterrestrial origin were reported.
  • It took eight minutes to conclude that it was a false alarm.
  • Hiller helps the ever-widening group of robbers to outsmart the bank's security system by staging one false alarm after another.
  • He did not want to sound a false alarm, but the consequences of smallpox could be staggering.
  • They called off their response to the reported incident after it turned out to be a false alarm.
British Dictionary definitions for false alarm

false alarm

noun
1.
a needless alarm given in error or with intent to deceive
2.
an occasion on which danger is perceived but fails to materialize
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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Idioms and Phrases with false alarm

false alarm

A warning signal that is groundless, made either by mistake or as a deliberate deception. For example, The rumor that we were all going to get fired was just a false alarm, or Setting off a false alarm is a criminal offense. This expression, first recorded in 1579, today is often used for a report of a nonexistent fire.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Difficulty index for false alarm

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Word Value for false

8
9
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