\ ˈgärd \

Definition of guard 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one assigned to protect or oversee another: such as

a : a person or a body of persons on sentinel duty Guards were posted around the camp.

b guards plural : troops attached to the person of the sovereign

c British : conductor sense b

2a : a defensive state or attitude asked him out when his guard was down

b : a defensive position (as in boxing)

3a : the act or duty of protecting or defending

b : the state of being protected : protection

4 : a protective or safety device specifically : a device for protecting a machine part or the operator of a machine

5 archaic : precaution

6a : a position or player next to the center in a football line

b : a player stationed in the backcourt in basketball

off guard

: in an unprepared or unsuspecting state Her angry response caught me off guard.

on guard

: defensively watchful : alert is on guard against terrorists


guarded; guarding; guards

Definition of guard (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to protect an edge of with an ornamental border

2a : to protect from danger especially by watchful attention : make secure police guarding our cities

b : to stand at the entrance of as if on guard or as a barrier

c : to tend to carefully : preserve, protect guarded their privacy

3 archaic : escort

4a : to watch over so as to prevent escape, disclosure, or indiscretion guarded the prisoners.

b : to attempt to prevent (an opponent) from playing effectively or scoring

intransitive verb

: to watch by way of caution or defense : stand guard guard against mistakes

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Other words from guard


guarder noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for guard

Synonyms: Noun


Synonyms: Verb

bulwark, cover, defend, fence, fend, forfend, keep, protect, safeguard, screen, secure, shield, ward

Antonyms: Noun


Antonyms: Verb

assail, assault, attack

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Choose the Right Synonym for guard


defend, protect, shield, guard, safeguard mean to keep secure from danger or against attack. defend denotes warding off actual or threatened attack. defend the country protect implies the use of something (such as a covering) as a bar to the admission or impact of what may attack or injure. a hard hat to protect your head shield suggests protective intervention in imminent danger or actual attack. shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand guard implies protecting with vigilance and force against expected danger. White House entrances are well guarded safeguard implies taking precautionary protective measures against merely possible danger. our civil liberties must be safeguarded

Examples of guard in a Sentence


There were dozens of police officers standing guard along the parade route. Tourists gather every day to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The guard must be in place before operating the meat slicer.


Two policemen were assigned to guard the prisoner. A tank guarded the bridge from enemy attack. A police officer was stationed outside to guard the door. They jealously guard their secrets. Her whereabouts are a tightly guarded secret.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Does this year mark a changing of the guard from the cable era to the streaming era? Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Netflix and HBO Set to Compete on Equal Footing," 12 July 2018 The Panthers took a hit up front, however, with the loss of all-pro guard Andrew Norwell, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Panthers training camp questions: What can Norv Turner do for Cam Newton?," 6 July 2018 Magic Words: Letting down my guard is a secret superpower. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes July 16-22," 13 July 2018 That was my mom trying to be sweet getting caught off guard by TMZ at the airport. Justin Tasch,, "Tim Tebow's mother lobbies for her son to be called up to the big leagues and play for the New York Mets," 12 July 2018 The 6-foot-4 guard has joined Valparaiso as a graduate transfer after previously playing at fellow Missouri Valley member Southern Illinois and Alabama-Birmingham. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "In full bloom: Valparaiso adds graduate transfer guard Deion Lavender for upcoming season," 12 July 2018 Public backlash: Anthem backs off plan to pave over Downtown Indianapolis green space for executive parking Anthem’s decision caught the hospital off guard. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Hendricks Regional Health disputes Anthem's payment rates at new Brownsburg hospital," 11 July 2018 Once again, the IDNYC, the identification of New York City, was not enough for the guards of a military base in our area,’’ wrote a New York Telemundo affiliate. Washington Post,, "July 4th visit to their soldier son-in-law lands couple in ICE’s custody," 10 July 2018 But Pruitt was caught off guard by Kelly’s call and flummoxed by his request to resign, one of the people said. Bloomberg, Fortune, "Scott Pruitt Is Devastated That White House Forced Him to Resign EPA Post, Sources Say," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mondo, Lynwood His ceiling, to me, is a versatile wing who is able to guard multiple positions and provide another ballhandler. K.c. Johnson,, "Bulls Q&A: Should Wendell Carter Jr. enter Hall of Fame this week or next? What's the starting lineup?," 12 July 2018 Business owners, universities and government entities, among other groups, can hire these special officers to guard their property. Talia Richman,, "A 'special police officer' shot a Baltimore man. What is that?," 11 July 2018 Frick hired 300 agents from the Pinkerton Detective Agency to guard the mill, and on the morning of July 6, 1892, a civil battle ensued. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 Then, the officer who took cover joined a team enters a darkened theater to guard the audience at a 1,800-seat Cirque du Soleil show. Ken Ritter, Fox News, "Police storm Vegas show to protect audience in Oct. 1 attack," 3 July 2018 In addition, the Heat have extended a qualifying offers to guard Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr., who both finished the season on two-way contracts. Ira Winderman,, "Heat poised to guarantee 2018-19 salary of Rodney McGruder, keeping him from free agency," 30 June 2018 According to reports, firetrucks and private security were deployed to guard @MoSalah's home from the hundreds of fans who surrounded it. Khadrice Rollins,, "Fans Gather Outside Mo Salah's Home in Egypt After Address Leaked on Facebook," 29 June 2018 In the interim, several US cities dispatched police to guard newsrooms, out of caution that the shooting might be tied to a larger attack on the press. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Five newspaper staff killed by man who sued them for covering his online threats and harassment," 29 June 2018 Liam Stack, a New York Times politics reporter, tweeted a photo of police guarding the entrance of his newspaper in response to the Maryland shooting. Staff Reports,, "Annapolis shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper leaves 5 dead," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of guard


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1500, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for guard


Middle English garde, from Anglo-French garde, guarde, warde, from garder, guarder, warder, to guard, defend, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German wartēn to watch, take care — more at ward


see guard entry 1

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Statistics for guard

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for guard

The first known use of guard was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for guard



English Language Learners Definition of guard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a state in which someone is carefully looking for possible danger, threats, problems, etc.

: a person whose job or duty is to watch and protect someone or something

: a group of people (such as soldiers) who protect a person or place



English Language Learners Definition of guard (Entry 2 of 2)

: to watch (someone) in order to prevent escape

: to protect (someone or something) from danger or attack

: to be careful about not telling or talking about (something, such as a secret)


\ ˈgärd \

Kids Definition of guard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person or a body of persons that guards against injury or danger the palace guard

2 : the act or duty of keeping watch An officer stood guard outside.

3 : a device giving protection a mouth guard


guarded; guarding

Kids Definition of guard (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to protect from danger : defend

2 : to watch over so as to prevent escape guard a prisoner

3 : to keep careful watch for in order to prevent I try to guard against mistakes.

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Comments on guard

What made you want to look up guard? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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