- the back of something, as distinguished from the front: The porch is at the rear of the house.
- the space or position behind something: The bus driver asked the passengers to move to the rear.
- the buttocks; rump.
- the hindmost portion of an army, fleet, etc.
- pertaining to or situated at the rear of something: the rear door of a bus.
- bring up the rear, to be at the end; follow behind: The army retreated, and the fleeing civilian population brought up the rear.
Origin of rear1
- the back or hind part
- the area or position that lies at the backa garden at the rear of the house
- the section of a military force or procession farthest from the front
- the buttocksSee buttock
- bring up the rear to be at the back in a procession, race, etc
- in the rear at the back
- (modifier) of or in the rearthe rear legs; the rear side
- (tr) to care for and educate (children) until maturity; bring up; raise
- (tr) to breed (animals) or grow (plants)
- (tr) to place or lift (a ladder, etc) upright
- (tr) to erect (a monument, building, etc); put up
- (intr often foll by up) (esp of horses) to lift the front legs in the air and stand nearly upright
- (intr ; often foll by up or over) (esp of tall buildings) to rise high; tower
- (intr) to start with anger, resentment, etc
Word Origin and History for bring up the rear
c.1300, from Old French rere (see rear (n.)).
"attack in the rear," 17c., from rear (n.).
"hindmost part," c.1600, abstracted from rerewarde "rear guard, hindmost part of an army or fleet" (mid-14c.), from Anglo-French rerewarde, Old French rieregarde, from Old French adverb riere "behind" (from Latin retro "back, behind;" see retro-) + Old French garde (see guard (n.)). Or the word may be a shortened form of arrear (see arrears).
As a euphemism for "buttocks" it is attested from 1796. Rear admiral is first attested 1580s, apparently so called from ranking "behind" an admiral proper. Rear-view (mirror) is recorded from 1926.
Old English ræran "to raise, build up, create, set on end; arouse, excite, stir up," from Proto-Germanic *raizijanau "to raise," causative of *risanan "to rise" (see raise (v.)). Meaning "bring into being, bring up" (as a child) is recorded from early 15c.; that of "raise up on the hind legs" is first recorded late 14c. Related: Reared; rearing.
Idioms and Phrases with bring up the rear
bring up the rear
Be last in a line or sequence, as in As a slow walker, I'm used to bringing up the rear, or In test results Tom always brought up the rear. This term almost certainly came from the military but the earliest citation given by the Oxford English Dictionary is from a 1643 religious treatise by Sir Thomas Browne: “My desires onely are . . . to be but the last man, and bring up the Rere in Heaven.”
In addition to the idioms beginning with rear
- rear end
- rear its ugly head
- bring up the rear