• An alarm bell or signal.

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Example Sentences

“We awoke every morning to a blaring tocsin from the neighbor’s apartment.”

“The record flooding was the tocsin the state needed to take coastal erosion more seriously.”

“When you hear the tocsin, head to the pier for departure.”

Word Origin

Provençal, late 16th century

Why this word?

“Tocsin” is an archaic word for an alarm or signal. It was originally a bell sounded to alert an entire city, but over time it became more of a metaphorical warning signal. For example: “We saw the declining population as a tocsin.” The word entered English in the 16th century through Old French, but the root “tocasenh” is from Provençal, a related Romance language. In Provençal, “tocar” is “to touch” and “senh” is “signal bell.” 

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