Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday August 14, 2002
tocsin \TOCK-sin\ , noun:
1. An alarm bell, or the ringing of a bell for the purpose of alarm.
2. A warning.
Some of the allegations put round are so frenzied, however, that some caution should be exercised before the tocsin is rung too loudly.
-- "New President of the NUS", Times (London), April 10, 1969
The first atomic bomb fell and its radioactive cloud became a tocsin for mankind.
-- Herbert Mitgang, "The Bomb as Horror and Warning", New York Times, August 1, 1990
But Mr. Beckett is wise in choosing the form of the myth in which to sound his tocsin on the condition of human society.
-- Brooks Atkinson, "Beckett's 'Endgame'", New York Times, January 29, 1958
Tocsin derives from Medieval French touquesain, from Old Provençal tocasenh, from tocar, "to touch, to strike, to ring a bell" + senh, "church bell," ultimately from Latin signum, "sign, signal."