1 the sound of an alarm (usually a bell) [syn: alarm bell]
2 a bell used to sound an alarm [syn: warning bell]
- Rhymes: -ɒksɪn
- a signal sounded by a
bell or bells, especially an alarm
- 1807: At half-past one, on the sounding of the tocsin (or bell of the public-house) about fifteen persons were collected, when the Rev. J. Bromley was called to the chair — The Times, 23 Aug 1804, p.3 col. C
- 1970: As she entered the projection theatre the soundtrack reverberated across the sculpture garden, a melancholy tocsin modulated by Talbert’s less and less coherent commentary. — JG Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition
A tocsin consists of a signal of alarm given by the ringing of a bell, and hence any warning or danger signal.
The earliest form of the word in English appears as toclesaine, borrowed from the Old French touque-sain (from toquer (to strike), compare toucher), combined with sin (modern French signe (a signal) from the Latin signum). The use of touch and its cognate forms with the idea of giving a sound also appears in the word tucket, Italian toccata, which probably originally meant a signal given by tap of drum, but subsequently always applied to a flourish or fanfare on a trumpet.
Tocsin was the title of a radical newspaper published in Australia around the turn of the nineteenth century, with a masthead designed by Norman Lindsay. It was anti-federation.
Tocsin is the title of the final movement of Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony. It was also the name of the second album of 80s goth rock band Xmal Deutschland.
Tocsin was the code name for the nuclear attack simulation performed by the government of Canada on Nov. 13, 1961 http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-71-274-1466/conflict_war/cold_war/clip8.
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