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

\ 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

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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


The army fought a courageous rearguard action.

First Known Use of rearguard


1898, in the meaning defined above


1659, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rearguard


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

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The first known use of rearguard was in 1659

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English Language Learners Definition of rearguard

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

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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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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