Definition of vanguard in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvanɡɑːd/


1A group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas: the experimental spirit of the modernist vanguard
More example sentences
  • It must regain its original role as the vanguard of the working class in its struggle for true emancipation.
  • Alpine is a small but rapidly growing town in the foothills near the edge of the Cleveland National Forest, a vanguard settlement of one of San Diego's many suburban tendrils.
  • They are the vanguard of a social revolution and will have a huge influence on the shape of society in the next two decades.
1.1A position at the forefront of new developments or ideas: the prototype was in the vanguard of technical development
More example sentences
  • Now we are at the centre of European and international politics - negotiating EU treaties and occupying a prominent position in the vanguard of the Information Age.
  • He argues that the creation of three new rail stations, the introduction of park-and-ride facilities and the opening up of greenways for buses places the city in the vanguard of 21st-century urban development.
  • Even though the Bay Area was not in the vanguard of developing a distinct hip-hop style, audiences and dancers have embraced it with a vengeance.
forefront, van, advance guard, avant-garde, spearhead, front, front line, front rank, fore, lead, leading position, cutting edge, driving force;
leaders, founders, founding fathers, pioneers, architects, creators, instigators, trailblazers, pathfinders, avant-gardists, trendsetters, innovators, groundbreakers
1.2The foremost part of an advancing army or naval force.
Example sentences
  • The vanguard of the army began crossing the river in late afternoon on 6 April.
  • Two hundred and four warriors formed the vanguard of the army.
  • Nelson's tactics slicing the enemy line ensured the vanguard played a negligible role in the battle which followed.


Late Middle English (denoting the foremost part of an army): shortening of Old French avan(t)garde, from avant 'before' + garde 'guard'.

  • caravan from Late Middle English:

    The first use of caravan was for a group of people travelling together across a desert in Asia or North Africa. The word comes from French caravane, from Persian kārwān. The sense ‘covered horse-drawn wagon’ dates from the early 19th century; during this period it also described a third class ‘covered carriage’ on a railway. A caravanserai (late 16th century) is from Persian kārwānsarāy, literally a ‘caravan palace’: the word is either the same as the early sense of caravan or describes an inn with a central courtyard for travellers. Van (early 19th century) is a shortening of caravan, to which the word also sometimes refers. The earlier van (early 17th century), ‘the foremost part of a group of people’, found as part of the phrase in the van of, is also an abbreviated form, from vanguard (Late Middle English), whose first part was from Old French avant ‘before’ ( compare vamp). The workman's white van is such a familiar sight that white van man has recently entered the language to mean an aggressive male van driver, or more widely an ordinary working man with forthright views.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: van|guard

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