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avant-garde

[uh-vahnt-gahrd, uh-vant-, av-ahnt-, ah-vahnt-; French a-vahn-gard]
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noun
  1. the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to the experimental treatment of artistic, musical, or literary material.
  2. belonging to the avant-garde: an avant-garde composer.
  3. unorthodox or daring; radical.
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Origin of avant-garde

1475–85; in sense “vanguard”; < French: literally, fore-guard. See vanguard
Related formsa·vant-gard·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for avant-garde

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The avant-garde of 500 regulars and 400 provincials, commanded by Lieut.-Col.

  • Reading the avant-garde stuff of nowadays, usually the contrast is merely grotesque, still I keep finding parallels.

  • She got possession of the kiln, as usual, and the ass was sent to graze on the green; but Mary was only the avant-garde.

  • Unlike elsewhere in Eastern Europe, there has been no experimental or avant-garde theater in Bulgaria.

    Area Handbook for Bulgaria

    Eugene K. Keefe, Violeta D. Baluyut, William Giloane, Anne K. Long, James M. Moore, and Neda A. Walpole


British Dictionary definitions for avant-garde

avant-garde

noun
  1. those artists, writers, musicians, etc, whose techniques and ideas are markedly experimental or in advance of those generally accepted
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adjective
  1. of such artists, etc, their ideas, or techniques
  2. radical; daring
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Derived Formsavant-gardism, nounavant-gardist, noun

Word Origin

from French: 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

Word Origin and History for avant-garde

n.

(also avant garde, avantgarde); French, literally "advance guard" (see avant + guard (n.)). Used in English 15c.-18c. in a literal, military sense; borrowed again 1910 as an artistic term for "pioneers or innovators of a particular period." Also used around the same time in communist and anarchist publications. As an adjective, by 1925.

The avant-garde générale, avant-garde stratégique, or avant-garde d'armée is a strong force (one, two, or three army corps) pushed out a day's march to the front, immediately behind the cavalry screen. Its mission is, vigorously to engage the enemy wherever he is found, and, by binding him, to ensure liberty of action in time and space for the main army. ["Sadowa," Gen. Henri Bonnal, transl. C.F. Atkinson, 1907]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper