rearguard

adjective
rear·​guard | \ ˈrir-ˌgärd How to pronounce rearguard (audio) \

Definition of rearguard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to resistance especially to sweeping social forces fought a rearguard action against automation

rear guard

noun
\ ˈrir-ˈgärd How to pronounce rear guard (audio) , -ˌgärd\

Definition of rear guard (Entry 2 of 2)

: a military detachment detailed to bring up and protect the rear of a main body or force

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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.

Examples of rearguard in a Sentence

Adjective

The army fought a courageous rearguard action.

First Known Use of rearguard

Adjective

1898, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1659, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rearguard

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rearguard

Statistics for rearguard

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rearguard

The first known use of rearguard was in 1659

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rearguard

rearguard

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of rearguard

: fought or conducted by a group of soldiers at the rear of an army especially during a retreat

More from Merriam-Webster on rearguard

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rearguard

Comments on rearguard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!