the foremost division or the front part of an army; advance guard; van.
the forefront in any movement, field, activity, or the like.
the leaders of any intellectual or political movement.
(initial capital letter) Rocketry. a U.S. three-stage, satellite-launching rocket, the first two stages powered by liquid-propellant engines and the third by a solid-propellant engine.

Origin of vanguard

1480–90; earlier van(d)gard(e) < Middle French avangarde, variant of avant-garde; see avaunt, guard Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vanguard

front, leading, lead

Examples from the Web for vanguard

Contemporary Examples of vanguard

Historical Examples of vanguard

  • For a whole month the German vanguard remained on the lookout in the village.

  • We are the pioneers, the vanguard, the riskers full of faith and hope.


    Emile Zola

  • Had we been forced to meet them vanguard to vanguard, on an equal footing, who could have been surprised?



  • Shall the vanguard consist of men who are greediest of honour?

  • Yet what of that great oncoming horde of which we were but the vanguard?

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

British Dictionary definitions for vanguard



the leading division or units of a military force
the leading position in any movement or field, or the people who occupy such a positionthe vanguard of modern literature

Word Origin for vanguard

C15: from Old French avant-garde, from avant- fore- + garde guard
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 vanguard

mid-15c., vaunt garde, from Middle French avant-garde, from avant "in front" (see avant) + garde "guard" (see guard (n.)). Communist revolutionary sense is recorded from 1928.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper