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rear·​guard ˈrir-ˌgärd How to pronounce rearguard (audio)
: of or relating to resistance especially to sweeping social forces
fought a rearguard action against automation

rear guard

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ˈrir-ˈgärd How to pronounce rear guard (audio)
: a military detachment detailed to bring up and protect the rear of a main body or force

Examples of rearguard in a Sentence

Adjective The army fought a courageous rearguard action.
Recent Examples on the Web
Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans have been sidelined in order to fight a rearguard action against a disease that is locking down the country and tanking the economy. The Economist, 8 Apr. 2020 The company has been fighting something of a rearguard action against the outcry over its polices, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing in front of Congress earlier this month., 25 Apr. 2018 Indeed, Justice Clarence Thomas continues to fight a rearguard action against the clause as applied to the states. Garrett Epps, The Atlantic, 9 July 2017 The rearguard action was led by the 31-year-old Miller, who has exercised outside influence over the summit's response to the worst refugee crisis since World War II., 26 May 2017
Indeed, Dnipropetrovsk has been a key rear guard for the Ukrainian military and National Guard. Taras Kuzio, Foreign Affairs, 25 Jan. 2015 The capelin rear guard, sensing danger, rose off the bottom in a great fleeing cloud. Robert Kunzig, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 General Fran Sigel was assigned as rear guard for forces moving through town. Randy McCrory, Arkansas Online, 3 Aug. 2023 By the 1990s, NHTSA had finally adopted a regulation requiring tougher rear guards. A.c. Thompson, ProPublica, 13 June 2023 The beefier, more robust rear guards would’ve cost an additional $127 each, according to industry estimates. A.c. Thompson, ProPublica, 13 June 2023 Striking then racing away as the Russian rear guard struggles to catch up. David Axe, Forbes, 3 May 2023 The rear guard ensures that nothing falls into that gap between your stove and the wall. Matt Jancer, WIRED, 25 Feb. 2023 The company also looked at the feasibility of a design change to add a rear guard before the child died in March 2021, the settlement said. Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post, 5 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rearguard.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle French reregarde, from Old French, from rere + garde guard

First Known Use


1898, in the meaning defined above


1659, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rearguard was in 1659


Dictionary Entries Near rearguard



rear guard

Cite this Entry

“Rearguard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

rear guard

: soldiers who protect the rear of an army
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