1The soldiers positioned at the rear of a body of troops, especially those protecting an army when it is in retreat.
- It is commonly used by troops intending to hold a position against an advancing enemy, by rearguards covering a retreat, or by advanced parties while they wait to be reinforced.
- The success of the long retreat and the rearguard engagements in 1944 and 1945 came despite, rather than because of, Hitler.
- The East was bringing the battle to the South, leaving only a few soldiers as a rearguard at the palace.
1.1A defensive or conservative element in an organization or community.
- I hope to convince readers that this is not simply a nostalgic reactionary's rearguard defence of a bygone era but a highly desirable way of meeting the needs of many patients today.
- It retreated and maintained a hold over rearguard elements.
- Rambling and canoeing organisations have now launched a fierce rearguard fight against British Waterways, which they say is guilty of scaremongering, and are arguing the case for a Scottish Waterways organisation to be set up.
Late Middle English (denoting the rear part of an army): from Old French rereguarde.
For editors and proofreaders
Definition of rearguard in:
What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?
Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.