alarums and excursions

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a·la·rums and excursions

 (ə-lär′əmz, -lăr′-)
1. Loud, frantic, or excited activity; clamor.
2. The sounds of war or warlike activity. Used as a stage direction for moving of soldiers across stage, as in Shakespeare's plays.

[Early Modern English, sudden attacks and sallies.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

alar′ums and excur′sions
noisy, frantic, or disorganized activities.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The various tunes are often little more than melodic fragments, surrounded by a bewildering assortment of alarums and excursions.
Behn is also seen as a 'Heroickess' like Cavendish, but as the exponent of a heroic eroticism resisting the moral (and often hypocritical) strictures applied to the theatre as the century wore on; yet, despite Chalmers's claims for Behn's controlling hand in the argumentative alarums and excursions of a late play such as The City Heiress (1682), its incoherent Toryism seems more a mirror of Behn's own disillusioned confusion than of a poised ambivalence.
While she spices the physical design with a few anachronisms (Poins and others are smokers; the costumery evolves from doublet and hose to something resembling tailored topcoats in the course of the ten acts), she does not try to foist topical meanings on the text, despite the temptation posed by the alarums and excursions currently in progress on the stage of world history.