AskDefine | Define klaxon

Dictionary Definition

klaxon n : a kind of loud horn formerly used on motor vehicles [syn: claxon]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A loud electric horn or alarm.

Extensive Definition

Klaxon is a trademark for an electromechanical horn or alerting device. Mainly used on automobiles, trains and ships, they alert listeners of the vehicle's arrival and possible danger.
The Klaxon's characteristic "ah-ooh-gah" sound is produced by a spring-steel diaphragm with a rivet in the center that is repeatedly struck by the teeth of a rotating cog wheel. The diaphragm is attached to a horn that acts as an acoustic transformer as well as controlling the direction of the sound.
In the first klaxons, the wheel was driven either by hand or by an electric motor. The electric version has been credited to inventor Miller Reese Hutchison, an associate of Thomas Edison.
The Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co. of Newark, New Jersey bought the rights to the device in 1908. F. W. Lovell, the founder, coined the name klaxon from the Ancient Greek verb klazō, "to shriek".
Klaxons were first fitted to automobiles and bicycles in 1908. Electric klaxons were the first electrical devices to be fitted to private automobiles. They were originally powered by 6-volt dry cells, and from 1911 by rechargeable batteries. Later hand-powered versions were used as military evacuation alarms and factory sirens. The klaxon is also famous for its use as a submarine dive alarm. Oliver Lucas of Birmingham, England developed a standard electric car horn in 1910. The English company Klaxon Signals Ltd. has been based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England for the last 80 years, with premises also in Birmingham. The French Klaxon company was acquired by the Italian Fiamm Group in the 1990s.
In 2005 Klaxon sold the rights for the hooter or klaxon range to Moflash Signalling Ltd., based in the original Klaxon Factory in Birmingham England. The Famous Klaxet ES and A1 hooters returned home to Birmingham after 10 years.
The French word for a car’s horn is "klaxon". In Japanese, , derived from klaxon, refers to a car's horn. The (popular) Dutch word for a car's horn is also "claxon" (mostly used in Belgium). Arabic also uses the word "klax" to refer to a car's horn (كلاكس in Arabic script)

Popular culture

  • The Klaxon: March of the Automobiles was composed by Henry Fillmore in 1929 for the Cincinnati Automobile Show, and was originally performed on twelve automobile horns.
  • The British New Rave band Klaxons takes its name from the word "klaxon."
  • "Ninja Warrior" on G4TV uses a klaxon to alert the players that 10 seconds remain on the clock.
  • On CTR: Crash Team Racing, the klaxon is used as the starting judge instead of an announcer.
  • In the Harry Potter series of books, the alarm that sounds when a boy tries to ascend the stairs to the girls' dormitory is described as 'klaxonlike.'
  • In Peru, the formal name for the horns of an automobile is "Clácson"
  • In Grant Morrison's comic book series "Doom Patrol" there are numerous references to a device called, 'The Action-Klaxon'.
  • In Romanian, the word for an automobile's horn is "claxon".

External links

klaxon in Spanish: Bocina
klaxon in French: Klaxon
klaxon in Italian: Clacson
klaxon in Dutch: Claxon
klaxon in Japanese: 警笛
klaxon in Polish: Sygnał dźwiękowy
klaxon in Portuguese: Buzina

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Mayday, SOS, air-raid alarm, alarm, alarm bell, alarm clock, alarm signal, alarum, alert, all clear, beacon, blinking light, boiler factory, boiler room, bull-roarer, burglar alarm, buzzer, catcall, cherry bomb, clack, clacker, clapper, cracker, cricket, crostarie, fiery cross, fire alarm, fire bell, fire flag, firecracker, five-minute gun, flashing light, fog bell, fog signal, foghorn, gale warning, hooter, horn, hue and cry, hurricane warning, lighthouse, noisemaker, note of alarm, occulting light, police whistle, rattle, rattlebox, signal of distress, siren, small-craft warning, snapper, steam whistle, still alarm, storm cone, storm flag, storm warning, ticktack, tocsin, two-minute gun, upside-down flag, whistle, whizgig, whizzer
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