Vanguard Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of vanguard? Not to worry — we’ll tell you. Read on to discover the definition of vanguard, its origin, synonyms, and more.

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You’ve likely heard of the term vanguard, but do you know what it means? Not to worry, we’ll tell you everything you need to know. 

Read on to get the scoop on the word vanguard’s definition, origin, synonyms, and more. By the end of this post, you should have a good understanding of what vanguard means and feel comfortable using it in a sentence. 

What Is the Definition of Vanguard?

The noun vanguard (pronounced van · gaard) can have a different meaning depending on the context of how it is used. But don’t just take our word for it. 

Check out these definitions provided by a few respectable English language Dictionaries listed below:

  • According to the Collins Dictionary of the English language, “vanguard” refers to the forefront in any field, movement, activity, or the like.
  • Alternatively, Cambridge English Dictionary defines “vanguard” as the part of an army or navy that leads an attack on an enemy.
  • Mexico also states that “vanguard” can be used in reference to the leaders of any political or intellectual movement.
  • Vanguard can also be used to reference a United States satellite-launching rocket. The Vanguard rocket has three stages, the first two stages powered by liquid propellant and the final stage powered by a solid-propellant engine.

So, whether you are talking about the contingent of people at the forefront of innovation and new industries, the first soldiers to engage the enemy, or the failed rocket project of the U.S., all can be used to define vanguard.

What Is the Etymology of Vanguard?

When we look at a term’s origin (or etymology), we really get to see how the term has evolved over time. The etymology is a term’s back story, from how the term’s meaning has changed over time to its earliest beginnings.

The noun vanguard was first used in the mid-15th century, deriving from Middle English vandgard and avaunt garde from the Old French avaunt meaning “before.” This also comes from the Old French avant-garde, going back to Latin abante meaning “advance” and garde meaning “guard.” 

Earlier forms vandgard also derived from the shortening of the Old French avan(t)garde.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Vanguard?

There are a number of words that we can use in lieu of the noun vanguard. These words are called synonyms— phrases or words that have the same or nearly the same definition as another word. 

Not only do these words help us to avoid repeating ourselves in conversation and in text, but they are also an excellent way to expand your knowledge of the English Language.

Below are example synonyms of vanguard:

  • Forefront
  • Winning position
  • Front rank
  • Head
  • Spearhead
  • Front line
  • Trailblazer
  • Founding fathers
  • Founder
  • Instigator
  • Precursor
  • Groundbreak
  • Trendsetter
  • Front
  • Cutting edge
  • Innovation
  • Front of an army
  • Advance guard
  • Foreground
  • State of the art
  • Position of prominence
  • New wave
  • Foremost position
  • Neoteric
  • Guru
  • Leading-edge
  • Pacesetter
  • Avant gardist
  • Head of an army

When a term has the opposite meaning of the original word, that term is called an antonym. As with synonyms, learning antonyms is also a great way to memorize the definition of a word.

Below are example antonyms of vanguard:

  • Followers
  • Rear
  • Back
  • End Product
  • Imitator
  • target
  • Rearguard
  • Tail end
  • Furthermost part
  • Latter
  • Successive
  • Subsequent
  • Ensuing
  • Background
  • Losing position
  • Consequence
  • Outcome
  • Lagging
  • Last
  • End
  • Product
  • End result

How Can You Use Vanguard in a Sentence?

Now that you understand meaning and history behind vanguard, let’s review how to properly use the noun in a sentence. Try using the word vanguard in a sentence today! 

Below you will find a few examples of the proper usage of vanguard to help get you started:

The Communist Party has been noted as the vanguard of the working class.

I was worried since the bay area was not in the vanguard of developing a distinct hip-hop style, we would be left behind; this couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

Hold steady; the vanguard will be right behind you.

You could tell that our new neighbors were at the vanguard of the technical revolution, as they brought in box after box of the latest gizmos and gadgets.

Proclaiming themselves to be the vanguard of social change, the student activists abandoned blue-collar politics.

It is safe to say that Steve Jobs thought he could change the world of computers as he clearly became the vanguard that did just that.

In order to ensure his company remained the vanguard of its industry, he worked tirelessly night after night.

After the vanguard fell in what could aptly be described as a massacre, the general called for the hasty retreat of his remaining forces. 


Quite frankly, the word vanguard can be confusing. It we pay attention to context clues, we are sure we won’t be stumped moving forward — not to mention the newfound knowledge we gained from this article! 

Just remember, if you are upfront, you are in the vanguard — be it the front of any trend, movement, or even the front of an advancing army.


  1. THE VANGUARD | definition | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Vanguard definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. VANGUARD English Definition and Meaning |
  4. VANGUARD FACT SHEET | Spaceline