1 : the troops moving at the head of an army
2 : the forefront of an action or movement
Did You Know?
Vanguard and avant-garde both derive from the Anglo-French word avantgarde, itself from 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 almost 400 years later.
The general received a report from scouts in the vanguard that the swampy terrain was not passable.
"Students have long been at the vanguard of South Korea's robust history of protest, drawing on deep-rooted Confucian traditions that elevated scholars as guardians of morality." — Susan Chira, The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a word for someone in the forefront of a campaign, crusade, or movement: t _ _ c _ _ ea _ er.VIEW THE ANSWER
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