Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Vanguard

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is vanguard. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Vanguard refers to the forefront of an action or movement. That meaning comes from the word’s original sense referring to troops moving at the head of an army.

// The manufacturer is in the vanguard of green technology.

// The castle’s watchmen spotted the vanguard of approaching cavalry and infantry.

VANGUARD in Context

“In the Gold Rush, Northern California attracted prospectors looking for financial independence. Now, this area is at the vanguard of a new movement—people seeking to use only the energy they produce themselves.” — Ivan Penn, The New York Times, 13 Mar 2022

Did You Know?

Vanguard comes from Anglo-French avantgarde, from avant, meaning “before,” and garde, “guard.” In medieval times, avantgarde referred to the troops that marched at the head of the army. In time, vanguard marched its way as a word for the group of people who are the leaders of an action or movement in society, politics, art, etc.

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