van·​guard | \ˈvan-ˌgärd also ˈvaŋ- \

Definition of vanguard 

1 : the forefront of an action or movement

2 : the troops moving at the head of an army

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from vanguard

vanguardism \ˈvan-​ˌgär-​ˌdi-​zəm also ˈvaŋ-​ \ noun
vanguardist \ˈvan-​ˌgär-​dist also ˈvaŋ-​ \ noun

Synonyms for vanguard


avant-garde, cutting edge, van

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of vanguard in a Sentence

a style of jazz that the vanguard quickly recognized as new and exciting talk radio is often regarded as being in the vanguard of the conservative movement

Recent Examples on the Web

Nearly four decades ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping chose the region to be the vanguard for China’s economic liberalization. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "A Twist in the U.S. Tariff Battle: ‘It’s Helping China Be More Competitive’," 17 Sep. 2018 Lee is at the vanguard of issues of social justice and representation. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "The Delicate Art of Creating New Emoji," 28 June 2018 Teacher unions are at the vanguard because their ties to the community are long term and close-knit, says Mr. Bruno of the University of Illinois. Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Court ruling a blow, not a knockout, to public unions," 27 June 2018 As creator and visionary of the Ralph Lauren brand worldwide, Mr. Lauren has been a vanguard for the global fashion industry and American style for nearly half a century. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Ralph Lauren Receives an Honorary Knighthood From the United Kingdom," 14 Nov. 2018 Finnriver was in the vanguard, entering the market just before U.S. cider production began spiking and widening the horizon of possibilities for fermented apple juice. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Destination Dining: Finnriver Farm & Cidery," 25 Sep. 2018 Kusama, whose work was in the global vanguard in the 1960s and 70s, is back on the forward edge of a cultural conversation about how to balance access with depth and quality of experience. Steven Litt,, "Kusama 'Infinity Mirrors' show in Toronto offers preview of what's coming to Cleveland (photos)," 6 May 2018 Philadelphia’s move away from Styrofoam puts it in the vanguard., "Philly schools ditch Styrofoam trays, embrace a greener lunch option," 13 Feb. 2018 Abdulhaqq, 14, a student from Douglasville, Ga., is emblematic of the vanguard of today's gun-control movement: young people whose exposure to tragedy has driven them toward activism. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "2 years after the Pulse nightclub shooting, young gun-control activists plan 'die-in' on Capitol Hill," 12 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of vanguard

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for vanguard

Middle English vauntgard, borrowed from Anglo-French vantgarde, avantgarde, from avant- "fore-" (from avant "before," going back to Late Latin abante) + garde guard entry 1 — more at advance entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vanguard

Listen to Our Podcast about vanguard

Dictionary Entries near vanguard



van Gogh



van Hoorne's canal


Statistics for vanguard

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vanguard

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vanguard



English Language Learners Definition of vanguard

: the group of people who are the leaders of an action or movement in society, politics, art, etc.

the vanguard : the soldiers, ships, etc., that are at the front of a fighting force that is moving forward


van·​guard | \ˈvan-ˌgärd \

Kids Definition of vanguard

1 : the troops moving at the front of an army

2 : forefront

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on vanguard

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


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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