Definition of guard in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡɑːd/


[with object]
1Watch over in order to protect or control: two men were left to guard the stockade the gates were guarded by soldiers
More example sentences
  • It's believed the soldiers will guard the control tower, the large fuel tanks and parts of the runway at certain times.
  • US soldiers guarding the gate usually stand about 20 yards from the road behind coils of barbed wire and concrete barriers.
  • He was not surprised when he saw soldiers guarding the gates.
protect, stand guard over, watch over, look after, keep an eye on, take care of, cover, patrol, police, defend, shield, safeguard, preserve, save, keep safe, secure, screen, shelter;
fortify, garrison, barricade;
man, occupy
1.1Watch over (someone) to prevent them from escaping: his task was to help guard Japanese prisoners
More example sentences
  • Since I was one of the few women, and the only unarmed prisoner, I was guarded in a more lax manner than the others.
  • Seventy percent of those who guard women prisoners are men.
  • We do have people contracted to guard prisoners.
keep under surveillance, keep under guard, keep watch over, mind, supervise, restrain, control
1.2 Basketball Stay close to (an opponent) in order to prevent them getting or passing the ball: when a player is so closely guarded he cannot pass the ball
More example sentences
  • His stance is not quite as low as it would be guarding the ball handler, but he is still down and ready to move.
  • Sometimes you'll have your back slightly turned to guard the ball.
  • The closer to the basket your player is, the closer you should guard them.
2Protect against damage or harm: the company fiercely guarded its independence
More example sentences
  • As they were divided into clans and tribes, they have fiercely guarded their independence, preserving what has since become a very diverse and fascinating culture.
  • Naturally more recently independent States wish to do the same and thus fiercely guard their Westphalian sovereignty.
  • The Kodavas have fiercely guarded their tradition and customs as well as their uniqueness.
2.1 [no object] (guard against) Take precautions against: farmers must guard against sudden changes in the market
More example sentences
  • But all such events were examples of the very sort of thing which the defendant's servant ought reasonably to have foreseen and to have guarded against by taking appropriate precautions.
  • Instead, we must be vigilant in guarding against the distasteful practice of having unfavourable preconceived notions against individuals based on their origin.
  • Under-achievement in gifted children is a major area of research study and as a high school teacher Bernadette thinks this is a problem that must be guarded against, especially in sixteen or seventeen year olds.
beware of, keep watch for, be alert to, take care for, keep an eye out for, be on the alert for, be on the qui vive for, be on the lookout for
informal keep one's eyes peeled/skinned for


1A person who keeps watch, especially a soldier or other person assigned to protect a person or to control access to a place: a security guard [as modifier]: soldiers on guard duty
More example sentences
  • Also, we will assign two guards to watch your every move on this establishment.
  • I set up a guard duty to watch for trouble and set to work deciphering the messages that would explain the runes.
  • I am protected by guards, have access to cars, the entire secure compound, you name it.
sentry, sentinel, security guard, nightwatchman;
protector, defender, guardian, custodian, keeper;
scout, lookout, watch;
informal bouncer
archaic watchman
1.1 [treated as singular or plural] A body of soldiers serving to protect a place or person: he’s the captain of the palace guard
More example sentences
  • The much-awaited change of guard in the military would follow the latest TNI reshuffle which affected 118 officers.
  • There is a change of guard at the top of the main reconstruction body.
  • A military honor guard was fired for saying ‘God bless you’ as he handed the flag over at funerals.
1.2 (Guards) The household troops of the British army.
Example sentences
  • The first arrest was made in September when an officer in the Guards was arrested for enlisting men for the Pretender.
  • His father is a captain in the British Guards and his mother is the headmistress of a prep school in England.
  • However, when the Press contacted the Army to ask if there was any way she could still join them, the Guards pulled out all the stops.
1.3Irish A member of the Irish police force; a Garda: There’s bends all the way from Portlaoise to Carlow. The responsibility for speeding traffic rests with the guards
More example sentences
  • All I could see when I went out into my garden were Garda cars and around 10 guards and detectives around the field.
  • I sat in the police car and the guard put the seat belt on me.
  • It would certainly help when we only have four guards on patrol in Naas.
1.4North American A prison warder.
Example sentences
  • But, as Wilkinson may or may not be aware, even prison guards tend to report high incidences of rape.
  • It probably was not obvious to the prison guards at the time either.
  • In May 1996, I entered the execution chamber with Robert and a team of prison guards.
jailer, warder, wardress, warden, prison officer, keeper, incarcerator, captor, sentry
informal screw
Law  detainer
archaic turnkey
2A device worn or fitted to prevent injury or damage: a retractable blade guard
More example sentences
  • All the trees would be surrounded by guards to prevent damage from sheep and other animals.
  • To prevent tooth injuries, children should wear facemasks and mouth guards while playing sports.
  • The guard also prevents damage if the car bottoms-out over ruts or dips in the road.
safety guard, safety device, protective device, shield, bulwark, screen, fence, fender, bumper, buffer, cushion, pad
3 [in singular] A defensive posture that is adopted in a boxing or martial arts contest or in a fight: before Seb could raise his guard Boz swung a wild punch
More example sentences
  • He used good defensive skills and a nice guard on the ropes to set up short hooks with both hands when Telesco got in close.
  • When Chi did open up, his work was either missing or hitting gloves and Brodie maintained good movement and a tight guard for the opening minute or so.
  • Taking turns with your partner drilling the swinging armbar from the guard is an example of this sort of drill.
3.1A state of vigilance or preparedness against adverse circumstances: he let his guard slip enough to make some unwise comments
More example sentences
  • The irrational fanatics might not heed to reason, but humanitarians must not become fatalistic and drop the guard of eternal vigilance.
  • Defenders of civil rights need to mount a vigilant guard.
  • The killers, if they are still alive, must be brought to justice and we have no alternative but to keep our guard up against the likelihood that there are others plotting to repeat the assaults.
vigilance, vigil, watch, close watch, monitoring, policing, surveillance, sentry duty;
watchfulness, caution, heed, attention, care, wariness
4British An official who rides on and is in general charge of a train.
Example sentences
  • These were the employees who operated the railway: the station staff, the signalmen, the shunters and the guards on the trains.
  • Running staff, drivers of passenger and good trains, guards and locomotive inspectors are involved in the dispute.
  • Thousands of rail guards at train companies across the country are to be balloted on strikes in a long-running row over their safety role.
5 American Football Each of two players either side of the centre.
Example sentences
  • He'll be looking at cornerbacks, defensive tackles, outside linebackers, guards and receivers.
  • If this play is well-executed, the linebackers get caught pursuing the flow of the guards and running back to the right.
  • A guard, tight end or running back can help Jones, giving him an advantage in passing situations.
5.1 Basketball Each of two players chiefly responsible for marking opposing players.
Example sentences
  • He was quick enough to disrupt opposing guards anywhere on the floor while also using his size and strength to stop them.
  • It involves a high post player and both guards, or a medium post man and a guard and forward, on the ball side of the floor.
  • There are times it will be necessary for the two guards to switch these responsibilities.



guard of honour

Pronunciation: /ˌɡɑːd əv ˈɒnə/
A group of soldiers detailed to ceremonially welcome an important visitor.
Example sentences
  • Members of the Air Field Defence Wing provided the firing party and the guard of honour for receiving VIPs.
  • The Regiment formed a guard of honour before today's play commenced.
  • He was a special constable for 13 years and 60 police officers formed a guard of honour at his funeral.

keep (or stand) guard

Act as a guard: armed men stood guard over makeshift roadblocks
More example sentences
  • Officers did not reveal whether any travel documents were found at the flat, where armed police today stood guard.
  • All day, U.S. choppers circled overhead, while on the ground, Iraqi police and soldiers stood guard.
  • Yesterday uniformed police officers stood guard outside the premises while forensic experts carried out a detailed search inside the premises.

off guard

Unprepared for a surprise or difficulty: the government was caught off guard by the unexpected announcement
More example sentences
  • As we have already seen the fire can spread very rapidly and may catch the unwary off guard.
  • If I could catch him off guard it would give me just the edge I needed to send him crying into comic oblivion.
  • The sheer size of the dish caught me a little off guard at first, but senses restored, I found the rich pate to be delightful.
unprepared, unready, inattentive, unwary, unwatchful, with one's defences down, by surprise, cold, unsuspecting
informal napping, asleep on the job, asleep at the wheel, on the hop

on guard

On duty to protect or defend something: security staff are permanently on guard
More example sentences
  • Some of the men had slipped away from the forward trenches, presumably those who were not actually meant to be on guard or patrol duty.
  • There would be no one on guard to protect the town from the Bandits.
  • Things soured after a six-year-old girl hurt herself when the dog on guard chased her in a bid to protect its family.
(also on one's guard)4.1 Prepared for any contingency: wine producers are constantly on guard against cheap imitations
More example sentences
  • Growing up in the UK, it took me twenty-two long years to feel secure enough to adopt the feminist label, and even then I was always on my guard, prepared for the usual assumption that I was a bit odd.
  • It has alerted us to be continually on our guard hence security at airports and elsewhere.
  • I find myself constantly on my guard while shopping for fear of muggers, on foot or cycle.
vigilant, alert, on the alert, wary, watchful, cautious, careful, heedful, chary, circumspect, on the lookout, on the qui vive, on one's toes, prepared, ready, wideawake, attentive, observant, keeping one's eyes peeled
informal all ears, beady-eyed, on the ball, not missing a trick, keeping a weather eye on things, cagey, leery
rare regardful, Argus-eyed

take guard

Cricket (Of a batsman) stand in position ready to receive the ball, especially having asked the umpire to check the position of one’s bat with respect to the stumps.
Example sentences
  • Within two balls of taking guard, Harris was offered a wide long-hop by Morkel, and you know where those go.
  • No-one takes guard at the wicket and the outfield is as rough as a public park.
  • So, as Lara took guard, England were on the verge of the unthinkable, the first clean sweep of a series in the Caribbean by any visiting team.

under guard

Being guarded: he was held in an empty stable under guard
More example sentences
  • While the Stafford family were not home at the time, the staff, including the butler, were held under guard while the men emptied the gun room, taking three rifles, fifteen shotguns and a large amount of ammunition.
  • He's been whisked away to an obscure place he didn't know he was going to, he had no choice in the matter, he can't leave, he is being held under guard by French and African soldiers, and he can't even use the phone.
  • Armed police turned up and he was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary by ambulance where he was kept under guard.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'care, custody'): from Old French garde (noun), garder (verb), of West Germanic origin. Compare with ward.

  • An Old Germanic element meaning ‘to watch, guard’ lies behind both guard and ward. Ward came into English from Old English weard ‘watchman, guard’. The sense ‘child protected by a guardian’ is late Middle English, and the sense of a hospital ward, where you are watched over by nurses or wardens, is mid 18th. Meanwhile, Germanic-speaking Franks had taken over areas of Europe that were mainly Romance speaking, and introduced the word into Romance. The w became a g(u) and the word became g(u)arde in Old French from which the g- forms were introduced into English. The g- and w- forms (found as alternatives in other words in modern French and English, as in the name William or Guillaume) are also found in warden (Middle English) and guardian (Late Middle English). Wardrobe (Late Middle English), a place where you look after clothes, has an alternative garderobe (Middle English). These were once interchangeable. However, garderobe is now mainly restricted to a term for a medieval lavatory. Wardrobe could have this sense in the past, for both words developed the sense of a small room where you could be private, and from there somewhere you could do something in private ( compare privy under private).

Words that rhyme with guard

Assad, aubade, avant-garde, backyard, ballade, bard, Bernard, bombard, canard, card, charade, chard, couvade, croustade, Cunard, facade, glissade, hard, ill-starred, interlard, lard, Montagnard, nard, pard, petard, pomade, promenade, regard, rodomontade, roulade, saccade, Sade, salade, sard, shard, unmarred, unscarred, yard

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