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false alarm

a false report of a fire in progress to a fire department.
something that excites unfounded alarm or expectation:
Rumors of an impending transit strike proved to be a false alarm.
Origin of false alarm
1570-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for false-alarm
Historical Examples
  • But I want to tell you again Overstreet is no false-alarm bad-man.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • "Well, if you ain't going to, we might as well go in and have a look at that false-alarm patient of ours," he continued.

    A Texas Ranger William MacLeod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for false-alarm

false alarm

a needless alarm given in error or with intent to deceive
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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