: of or relating to resistance especially to sweeping social forces.
1. “Even as some of API’s own members are inching toward compromise on relatively modest proposals like cap and trade legislation the lobbying group seems to be fighting a rearguard battle.” — From an article by Adam Federman on Counterpunch.org, February 12, 2014.
2. “Democracy seems no better suited than dictatorship to saving rainforests because money talks in both, and from generation to generation, rearguard battles against the devastation have been handed off.” — From an article by Edward Hoagland in Harper’s, March 2009.
DID YOU KNOW?
As a noun, “rearguard” refers to the soldiers that are stationed at the rear of a body to protect it from attack especially during retreat. (The troops at the front are called the vanguard.) A rearguard action, then, is the defensive or delaying fight waged as resistance against the encroaching enemy. It is through figurative extension that the phrase “rearguard action,” and consequently “rearguard” as an adjective, has become applied to other means of indirect resistance, often by a small force against a more powerful one.