Definition of rearguard
- fought a rearguard action against automation
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The army fought a courageous rearguard action.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rearguard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
As a noun, rearguard refers to the soldiers that are stationed at the rear of a body to protect it from attack especially during retreat. (The troops at the front are called the vanguard.) A rearguard action, then, is the defensive or delaying fight waged as resistance against the encroaching enemy. It is through figurative extension that the phrase rearguard action, and consequently rearguard as an adjective, has become applied to other means of indirect resistance, often by a small force against a more powerful one.
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