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rearguard

or rear-guard

[reer-gahrd]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective
  1. of or relating to a rear guard.
  2. designed to oppose or prevent in a defensive way: a rearguard strategy.

Origin of rearguard

First recorded in 1895–1900; attributive use of rear guard
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rearguard

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Some of them who had been on duty in the rearguard had had no breakfast (it so happened).

    Anabasis

    Xenophon

  • There seemed to be no disposition to push this rearguard when we got up to Fairfield.

  • Three feet above was the flooring, and all the rearguard passing over.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The rearguard went on; the guns arrived also at the ditch and the overtaxed bridge.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • But the whole operation proved no more than a rearguard action.


British Dictionary definitions for rearguard

rearguard

noun
  1. a detachment detailed to protect the rear of a military formation, esp in retreat
  2. an entrenched or conservative element, as in a political party
  3. rearguard action
    1. an action fought by a rearguard
    2. a defensive action undertaken to try to stop something happening or continuing

Word Origin

C15: from Old French rereguarde (modern French arrière-garde), from rer, from Latin retro back + guarde guard; compare vanguard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012