Did You Know?
The troops at the head of an army are called the vanguard, and that word can also mean "the forefront of an action or movement." It was vanguard, rather than vanward, that led the way on the route into English. Vanguard was first documented in English in the 15th century. By the early 17th century, it was sometimes shortened to van—a reference might be made to an army's "van and rear." Some 200 years later vanward brought up the rear, making its English debut when writers appended -ward, an adjective suffix meaning "is situated in the direction of," to the shortened van, thereby creating a word meaning "in the forefront."
"[Joint venturing] opportunities now exist for vanward companies in a variety of industries, especially other financial services businesses and retailing." — Vikas Kapoor, American Banker, 6 Feb. 1998
"The enemy vexes not your vanward posts; / You are mistaken. — Now, however, go; / Cross Leipzig, and remain as the reserve." — Thomas Hardy, The Dynasts, 1908
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a noun that refers to a leading element, force, or influence in an undertaking or development: s _ e _ _ he _ _.VIEW THE ANSWER
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