1 : the troops moving at the head of an army
2 : the forefront of an action or movement
Did You Know?
"Vanguard" derives from the Anglo-French word "avantgarde." Both terms were created by combining the French words "avant," meaning "before," and "garde," meaning "guard." In medieval times, "avantgarde" referred to the troops that marched at the head of the army. English speakers retained that meaning when they adopted "vanguard" in the 15th century. "Avant-garde," which is now used in English to refer to a group of people who develop new and often very surprising ideas in art, literature, etc., didn't make its own English debut until 1910.
Quick Quiz: What compound word meaning "a principal spokesman or advocate," as in "He was the _____ _____ for the President's economic policy," originally meant "a soldier who goes ahead of a patrol"? The answer is ...
The manufacturer is in the vanguard of green technology.
"Classical beauty is easy, but a taste for the difficult, the unconventional, the ugly, has often been seen as a mark of sophistication, a passport into the rarefied world of the artistic vanguard." -- From an article by Natalie Angier in The New York Times, August 10, 2010
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