Fun Linguistic Fact

Origin of: alarm

Alarm: an anxious awareness of danger.

This etymology is nice and simple to trace! Middle English brought us this word in the form of “alarme” from Old French, which itself had been derived from the Italian “all’arme.”

This Italian form translates to “to arms!”, a phrase which here means “get to the bloody weapons and look sharp about it!” It was often used during war, in order to prepare soldiers for the conflict to come.

Over time, the semantics have shifted from warning you to be armed and ready, to warning you to be equipped for your 6am start. Which, for some people, is the very same feeling.

For me, the weaponry undertones are still very much alive. There are often times I feel like going to battle with my alarm clock.


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