Meaning of guard in English:


Pronunciation /ɡɑːd/

See synonyms for guard

Translate guard into Spanish


[with object]
  • 1Watch over in order to protect or control.

    ‘two men were left to guard the stockade’
    • ‘the gates were guarded by soldiers’
    • ‘It's believed the soldiers will guard the control tower, the large fuel tanks and parts of the runway at certain times.’
    • ‘US soldiers guarding the gate usually stand about 20 yards from the road behind coils of barbed wire and concrete barriers.’
    • ‘He was not surprised when he saw soldiers guarding the gates.’
    • ‘Their mouths dropped open when they noticed one of the tall soldiers guarding them, hair hidden beneath a helmet, was a square-jawed woman.’
    • ‘Following the disturbances in Belize City, soldiers could be seen guarding some buildings, while residents appeared to be getting on with their lives.’
    • ‘A few weeks ago the 47-year old olive farmer suffered a heart attack during a scuffle with the soldiers guarding the wall.’
    • ‘Heavily armed soldiers guarded the few churches which held Sunday services, witnesses said.’
    • ‘Third, the excessive number of soldiers to guard the borders is becoming a burden on the local population.’
    • ‘They have their own budgets and their own suppliers, and jealously guard the areas they control.’
    • ‘Soldiers guarding the settlement fired back, killing two attackers and wounding a third man who fled back into the sea.’
    • ‘A grenade was thrown from a car toward soldiers guarding a checkpoint.’
    • ‘Just think how much fun it will be for the American soldiers to guard that part of town during the Occupation.’
    • ‘The front gate had two soldiers wielding automatic firearms guarding the outside.’
    • ‘The songs of that age had themes of social responsibility, singing the praises of navy soldiers who guarded the country's shores, or the beauty of the motherland.’
    • ‘Soldiers guarding the entrances to the base thus need to ensure only that military personnel or civilians coming in carry one of the many passes accepted within the base.’
    • ‘The secret was revealed during an investigation this month into the deaths of two soldiers who were guarding an entrance to the complex when both were found fatally shot.’
    • ‘The wretched soldiers were still guarding the cannon.’
    • ‘Violence spread to other fuel outlets and crowds threw stones at soldiers guarding the main British headquarters.’
    • ‘Another witness had seen three container trucks during the same period, with armed soldiers guarding the trucks.’
    • ‘On the pretext that the statue was about to be attacked, the army erected a barbed wire fence around the area on May 25 and posted soldiers to guard the edifice.’
    1. 1.1Watch over (someone) to prevent them from escaping.
      ‘his task was to help guard Japanese prisoners’
      • ‘Since I was one of the few women, and the only unarmed prisoner, I was guarded in a more lax manner than the others.’
      • ‘Seventy percent of those who guard women prisoners are men.’
      • ‘We do have people contracted to guard prisoners.’
      • ‘The person guarding him has his own reasons for not wanting to live and so exchanges jacket and papers with the condemned man and goes before the firing squad in his place.’
      • ‘American marines guarding the prisoners said they had complained that their own officers had shot at them during the battle.’
      • ‘Inge believes the prospect of being posted to guard political prisoners, and the cruel conditions her son was expecting to have to enforce there, pushed him to attempt to escape.’
      • ‘Any period of industrial action would see the army called in to guard prisoners.’
      • ‘Even when this crisis is over, there are police officers who will work at guarding prisoners.’
      • ‘The fear was coming back, she knew that Mac was coming for her, and that whatever she did, however many people were guarding her, whatever level of security they set up, he was going to get through to her.’
      • ‘Didn't they realise that if they all went to check it out there would be no one to guard the prisoners and anyone could just randomly come in and help them escape?’
      • ‘Then he was moved to more common military police duties including convoy security and guarding the prisoners at Camp Bucca.’
      • ‘While he was guarding the prisoners, some of the other platoon members poured boiled water over them.’
      • ‘He said their work was consistent with the Geneva Convention and the responsibility for guarding the prisoners remained with the US.’
      keep under surveillance, keep under guard, keep watch over, mind, supervise, restrain, control
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Basketball Stay close to (an opponent) in order to prevent them getting or passing the ball.
      ‘when a player is so closely guarded he cannot pass the ball’
      • ‘His stance is not quite as low as it would be guarding the ball handler, but he is still down and ready to move.’
      • ‘Sometimes you'll have your back slightly turned to guard the ball.’
      • ‘The closer to the basket your player is, the closer you should guard them.’
      • ‘This illustration shows offensive player 3 with the ball and being guarded by zone player 4.’
      • ‘I pride myself on scoring more points than the guy I'm guarding.’
  • 2Protect against damage or harm.

    ‘the company fiercely guarded its independence’
    • ‘As they were divided into clans and tribes, they have fiercely guarded their independence, preserving what has since become a very diverse and fascinating culture.’
    • ‘Naturally more recently independent States wish to do the same and thus fiercely guard their Westphalian sovereignty.’
    • ‘The Kodavas have fiercely guarded their tradition and customs as well as their uniqueness.’
    • ‘Siblings are very close to and protective of one another; brothers fiercely guard their sisters' honor.’
    • ‘Members - collectively called Pathans - guard a fierce independence where guns, drugs and contraband are a way of life.’
    • ‘He is adamant that he will never marry again and guards his new-found freedom fiercely.’
    • ‘A compartment inside an Elite case has two L-shaped cushions filled with air that can take the impact of a fall to guard the notebook from damage.’
    • ‘The following years were characterized by rifts with Russia, in which the Ukraine jealously guarded its own independence against its overbearing neighbour.’
    • ‘It was clear that, on the contrary, the ex-colonies jealously and for the most part successfully guarded their independence.’
    • ‘These committees have always jealously guarded their independence.’
    • ‘But universities are likely to guard their independence jealously.’
    • ‘It is vitally important that we jealously guard our hard-won independence.’
    • ‘But he also knew Marnie was very independent, and she guarded that independence.’
    • ‘Even those who are well known, for whatever reason, will fiercely guard their privacy.’
    protect, stand guard over, watch over, look after, keep an eye on, take care of, cover, patrol, police, defend, shield, safeguard, preserve, save, keep safe, secure, screen, shelter
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1guard againstno object Take precautions against.
      ‘farmers must guard against sudden changes in the market’
      • ‘But all such events were examples of the very sort of thing which the defendant's servant ought reasonably to have foreseen and to have guarded against by taking appropriate precautions.’
      • ‘Instead, we must be vigilant in guarding against the distasteful practice of having unfavourable preconceived notions against individuals based on their origin.’
      • ‘Under-achievement in gifted children is a major area of research study and as a high school teacher Bernadette thinks this is a problem that must be guarded against, especially in sixteen or seventeen year olds.’
      • ‘It seems unlikely that such operations could be militarily important, but they could be politically important and must be guarded against.’
      • ‘Today, however, unlike in the past, risk is seen not as something we can handle or perhaps even turn into opportunity, but as something that we suffer from and must be guarded against.’
      • ‘For this reason, they must be guarded against reality, reared in a controlled climate, in an altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen.’
      • ‘Such risks must be guarded against at all costs.’
      • ‘Likewise, American over-reaction, especially of the military variety, must be guarded against.’
      • ‘The signs are that it won't, but those involved must guard against becoming part of the very culture they are out to combat.’
      • ‘While there is a strong case to be made to free up some land, Ireland must guard against panic proposals.’
      • ‘We all know about the problems of obesity in youngsters, and of course we must guard against this.’
      • ‘Researchers also found that curcumin, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, had other health benefits: it aids digestion, helps fight infection and guards against heart attacks.’
      • ‘An orange provides 140 per cent of the suggested daily amount of vitamin C and contains folic acid which helps prevent birth defects and guards against anemia’
      • ‘You are enthusiastic and spontaneous about life but need to guard against sudden outbursts of anger or love.’
      • ‘They provide the checks and balances that guard against the arrogance of power.’
      • ‘How much time do we have, to develop this preventative medicine of climate that guards against sudden shocks?’
      • ‘We must guard against the temptation to cloud it with complexity or dissect it to obscurity.’
      • ‘Given the undoubted complexity of this claim I must guard against conducting any form of mini-trial.’
      • ‘We must also guard against them raiding and exploiting our rich genetic pool.’
      • ‘Do you feel that this is the real you and you must guard against anyone knowing it?’
      beware of, keep watch for, be alert to, take care for, keep an eye out for, be on the alert for, be on the qui vive for, be on the lookout for
      View synonyms


  • 1A person who keeps watch, especially a soldier or other person assigned to protect a person or to control access to a place.

    ‘a security guard’
    • ‘soldiers on guard duty’
    • ‘Also, we will assign two guards to watch your every move on this establishment.’
    • ‘I set up a guard duty to watch for trouble and set to work deciphering the messages that would explain the runes.’
    • ‘I am protected by guards, have access to cars, the entire secure compound, you name it.’
    • ‘They witnessed the cruelty of German guards and watched as Allied bombers leveled German cities.’
    • ‘The guard assigned to the U.S. ambassador shot at the assailants, and after a brief gun battle, the assassins were overcome.’
    • ‘The guard was reprimanded and assigned to duty where he had no contact with detainees for the remainder of his assignment at the detention center.’
    • ‘On the way Ben watched where the guards patrolled trying to figure the best way to distract them for long enough to get a message out.’
    • ‘Wily lookouts kept watch for German guards, calling out codewords as a warning.’
    • ‘There were two guards watching the vault where the prisoners were.’
    • ‘There are more and more prisoners, but the guards can't control 100 more prisoners every month.’
    • ‘Andrew waited until none of the guards were watching and quickly dove into the the Humvee.’
    • ‘Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.’
    • ‘From his position on the ground, he watched as five guards paraded into his house, claiming it as their own.’
    • ‘The men are assigned guard duty in an abandoned village.’
    • ‘He hid there for a moment until he was sure that no guards were watching, then ran across a shaft of light to another blotch of darkness behind a pair of stalagmites.’
    • ‘Their caper involves a nightlong journey of picking up cash all over town in a purloined bank van with Wayne and Henry posing as bank guards assigned to collect all this money.’
    • ‘He, however, believes that the biggest threat to the rhinos is that they could be poached, although the state has employed several guards to watch over them.’
    • ‘The men are to be watched, the guards reinforced.’
    • ‘The guards watched him pace like this, back and forth between the door and the middle of the hall, listening every now and then for any sound of movement.’
    • ‘She watched the two guards slowly walk towards each other.’
    sentry, sentinel, security guard, nightwatchman
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1treated as singular or plural A body of soldiers serving to protect a place or person.
      ‘he's the captain of the palace guard’
      • ‘The much-awaited change of guard in the military would follow the latest TNI reshuffle which affected 118 officers.’
      • ‘There is a change of guard at the top of the main reconstruction body.’
      • ‘A military honor guard was fired for saying ‘God bless you’ as he handed the flag over at funerals.’
      • ‘A third line of defence was the bourgeois militia or citizen guard.’
      • ‘Some members of the families wept as a military honour guard carried the coffins of the five into a specially erected marquee.’
      • ‘The inspection was followed by a reception at St James's Palace and a dinner with the Queen last night, with Capt Duffy one of the seven members of the guard to be introduced to her.’
      • ‘ARF is the reserves, and among other things it's where members of the guard are sent for disciplinary reasons.’
      • ‘She'd only been a member of the guard for six days, but already had bested some higher ranking guards in practices.’
      • ‘They thundered down the streets, pursued by the mob and several members of the city guard who were also on horseback.’
      • ‘His great-grandfather was a member of the guard to the Austrian-Hungarian royal family.’
      • ‘The three friends moved behind the wall with the King of Acarin and a few of members of his royal guard.’
      • ‘Back in 1969 I was lucky enough to be part of the guard when Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales at Caernafon Castle.’
    2. 1.2The household troops of the British army.
      ‘The first arrest was made in September when an officer in the Guards was arrested for enlisting men for the Pretender.’
      • ‘His father is a captain in the British Guards and his mother is the headmistress of a prep school in England.’
      • ‘However, when the Press contacted the Army to ask if there was any way she could still join them, the Guards pulled out all the stops.’
      • ‘The city Guard is convinced that the city needs more Guards!’
    3. 1.3Irish A member of the Irish police force; a Garda.
      ‘There's bends all the way from Portlaoise to Carlow. The responsibility for speeding traffic rests with the guards’
      • ‘All I could see when I went out into my garden were Garda cars and around 10 guards and detectives around the field.’
      • ‘I sat in the police car and the guard put the seat belt on me.’
      • ‘It would certainly help when we only have four guards on patrol in Naas.’
      • ‘A crowd had gathered then the guards handcuffed him and took him away.’
      • ‘She is talking about reporting me to the guards [police].’
      • ‘Mr Green got up and called the Guards in Ballina, and was advised that a patrol car was on its way.’
      • ‘We will have extra Guards on duty that night and young people who are misbehaving can be charged with public order offences.’
      • ‘It has to be stressed that Flynn's fellow directors have only been been helping the Guards with their inquiries.’
      • ‘The Guards were called to the scene, but when they arrived, they did precious little to assist these young folks.’
      • ‘While being interviewed by the Guards he punched two detectives & was charged for that too.’
      • ‘When he did finally make it to court he swore he'd seen nothing, even denying he ever told Guards he'd seen anything.’
      • ‘Members of the gang have threatened guards and prison officers.’
    4. 1.4North American A prison warder.
      ‘But, as Wilkinson may or may not be aware, even prison guards tend to report high incidences of rape.’
      • ‘It probably was not obvious to the prison guards at the time either.’
      • ‘In May 1996, I entered the execution chamber with Robert and a team of prison guards.’
      • ‘Showing that a prison guard should have known is not enough, no matter how obvious the signs of abuse.’
      • ‘He went on hunger strike for a day after prison guards threw him into solitary confinement.’
      • ‘But weeks after the rape, she mustered courage and sobbed out the story of her torture by the prison guard to the jail boss.’
      • ‘Wardens and prison guards dislike drugs for the same reason we dislike them.’
      • ‘4,100 young people are housed in these facilities, which are operated by wardens and prison guards.’
      • ‘The accounts have been based not only on the word of detainees, but of prison guards, translators, FBI agents and others.’
      • ‘In some cases, the detainees have been subject to harassment by prison guards and rough treatment that has left them bloodied.’
      • ‘Some jails and prisons allow the guards to carry chemical spray and a baton, some of them insist that there's nothing at all in reach of the inmates.’
      • ‘He was transferred to the harsher conditions of Alcatraz for killing a prison guard at Leavenworth.’
      • ‘He also disciplined prison guards for screaming at inmates.’
      • ‘The other involves a rape case that examines regulations about whether male prison guards can supervise female inmates.’
      • ‘Thus, a few years ago it was held to be unconstitutional for a prison guard to hit an inmate.’
      • ‘There didn't seem to be any more guards in the prison area.’
      • ‘The two guards of the prison automatically dropped to one knee.’
      • ‘Of course, the guards saw the prison break and sounded the alarm.’
      • ‘Prisoners, guards, prison administrators and many others were called to testify under oath in exhaustive hearings.’
      • ‘The receptionist skidded along the tile floor towards the alarm button to alert the remaining guards of a prison break.’
      jailer, warden, prison officer, keeper, incarcerator, captor, sentry
      View synonyms
  • 2A device worn or fitted to prevent injury or damage.

    ‘a retractable blade guard’
    • ‘All the trees would be surrounded by guards to prevent damage from sheep and other animals.’
    • ‘To prevent tooth injuries, children should wear facemasks and mouth guards while playing sports.’
    • ‘The guard also prevents damage if the car bottoms-out over ruts or dips in the road.’
    • ‘The patient grimaces, clamping down on a mouth guard designed to prevent tongue-biting and broken teeth.’
    • ‘Encouraging your child to use a mouth guard during sports can also prevent serious dental injuries.’
    • ‘He wore high black boots, with silver soles and worn knee guards.’
    • ‘I had to wear a mouth guard constantly for about the first nine months, because my muscles were so tight that my teeth would grind.’
    • ‘Minerva did not know that the mouth guards worn by boxers, rugby players, and other competitors were meant to protect the wearer from concussion.’
    • ‘Soft plastic mouth guards, or occlusal splints, may be needed to prevent damage from trauma, as in sports injuries, or bruxism.’
    • ‘Considering the helmet weight and possibility of neck strain, it is desirable to wear helmets with chin guards made of unbreakable plastic.’
    • ‘In the orchard, remove mouse guards and check for damage.’
    • ‘Mesh gutter guards will help prevent clogs in the future.’
    • ‘Lock windows or use guards to prevent them from opening too far.’
    • ‘Wrist guards help prevent fractured wrists, one of the most common injuries among in-line skaters.’
    • ‘Also, make sure the bike has spoke guards to prevent the child's feet from getting caught in the spokes.’
    • ‘Mr Jeffs also urged residents to buy letterbox guards that prevent items being posted through.’
    • ‘Except the world-renowned rugby player had swapped his mouth guard for a corsage and his number two jersey for a tuxedo.’
    • ‘The appropriate use of mouth guards and face shields should be advocated.’
    • ‘Heffernan, who turns 21 this month, is campaigning to highlight the dangers of not wearing helmets and face guards during hurling games.’
    • ‘After placing the cable, cover the notches with nail guards to prevent accidental nailing into the wire.’
    safety guard, safety device, protective device, shield, bulwark, screen, fence, fender, bumper, buffer, cushion, pad
    View synonyms
  • 3in singular A defensive posture that is adopted in a boxing or martial arts contest or in a fight.

    ‘before Seb could raise his guard Boz swung a wild punch’
    • ‘He used good defensive skills and a nice guard on the ropes to set up short hooks with both hands when Telesco got in close.’
    • ‘When Chi did open up, his work was either missing or hitting gloves and Brodie maintained good movement and a tight guard for the opening minute or so.’
    • ‘Taking turns with your partner drilling the swinging armbar from the guard is an example of this sort of drill.’
    • ‘One year is the year of the half guard; another is the year of the ankle lock.’
    • ‘Many fighters now just practise triangle chokes, armbars and sweeps, all from the guard.’
    • ‘The butterfly guard is one of the most powerful ways to sweep your opponent.’
    • ‘From butterfly guard, of course, you also have the option of returning to the half guard.’
    • ‘Most often it is applied from the guard, but can be used in many other positions as well.’
    • ‘Here Shaolin demonstrates how he likes to jump to the half guard and then sweep his opponent.’
    • ‘If you succeed in sweeping your opponent then go back to the butterfly guard and try again.’
    • ‘When your arms are so tired that you can't lift your guard fight one more round.’
    • ‘You start with your opponent in the closed guard and a grip on his sleeve and lapel.’
    1. 3.1A state of vigilance or preparedness against adverse circumstances.
      ‘he let his guard slip enough to make some unwise comments’
      • ‘The irrational fanatics might not heed to reason, but humanitarians must not become fatalistic and drop the guard of eternal vigilance.’
      • ‘Defenders of civil rights need to mount a vigilant guard.’
      • ‘The killers, if they are still alive, must be brought to justice and we have no alternative but to keep our guard up against the likelihood that there are others plotting to repeat the assaults.’
      • ‘As a newspaper reader, you especially need to keep your guard up.’
      • ‘‘I fell in love with her, a woman who thinks she needs to keep her guard up so she can succeed as a career woman,’ says Mendes.’
      • ‘I think it is useful that, on a periodic basis, we keep our guard up.’
      • ‘Naturally, because his quiz is a very serious thing indeed, he managed to keep his guard up despite the neat vodka he was drinking.’
      • ‘Pensioners in Colchester were today told to keep their guard up after bogus callers struck twice.’
      vigilance, vigil, watch, close watch, monitoring, policing, surveillance, sentry duty
      View synonyms
  • 4British An official who rides on and is in general charge of a train.

    ‘These were the employees who operated the railway: the station staff, the signalmen, the shunters and the guards on the trains.’
    • ‘Running staff, drivers of passenger and good trains, guards and locomotive inspectors are involved in the dispute.’
    • ‘Thousands of rail guards at train companies across the country are to be balloted on strikes in a long-running row over their safety role.’
    • ‘South West Trains tried to remove guards from its trains or downgrade their role, hitting safety.’
    • ‘It's all about the number of guards on each train.’
    • ‘Plug sockets for laptops and mobiles, decent seats, quiet trains, no guards to check the tickets - it's all an improvement.’
    • ‘‘The pressure on guards and train crew is increasing all the time,’ said a guard on Silverlink.’
    • ‘Bus conductors improve safety, as do guards on tubes and trains, which have nearly all been abolished now, and as do staff in stations.’
    • ‘It's a step towards bringing back guards on the trains, which is what the RMT is calling for.’
    • ‘We should have told them you will not have any guards on trains until you settle with us.’
    • ‘We need adequate staff on every station all the time they are open and a guard on every train, including on the Tube.’
    • ‘The infamous robber was sentenced to 30 years for his part in the 1963 robbery of a Glasgow to London mail train in which a guard was injured.’
    • ‘She asked me when the train left, and I suggested that she asked the guard to hold the train whilst she went and found it, but in the end she was back on board before the train moved off.’
    • ‘I asked the guard what time the train got back to Salford.’
    • ‘The guard of the train was a tried servant of the company - a man who had worked for twenty-two years without a blemish or complaint.’
    • ‘Of course, that didn't stop the guard on my train advising us to change for the Central and Victoria Lines as we rolled into Stratford.’
    • ‘Instead of a guard on every train we have ‘station assistants’ on platforms.’
    • ‘He took a team from his company there recently and was amazed when the train guard came into their compartment and told them to stop talking.’
    • ‘It was his 54th birthday, and he was looking forward to starting another working day as the guard on the train.’
    • ‘He was initially helped by nearby passengers and a train guard gave him first aid and tried to resuscitate him.’
  • 5American Football
    Each of two players either side of the centre.

    ‘He'll be looking at cornerbacks, defensive tackles, outside linebackers, guards and receivers.’
    • ‘If this play is well-executed, the linebackers get caught pursuing the flow of the guards and running back to the right.’
    • ‘A guard, tight end or running back can help Jones, giving him an advantage in passing situations.’
    • ‘Replacing a legend at center isn't easy, especially when your previous experience in the NFL is as a guard.’
    • ‘In front of him the team consists of two banks of three players - three guards in defence and two wingers and a centre forward in attack.’
    1. 5.1Basketball Each of two players chiefly responsible for marking opposing players.
      ‘He was quick enough to disrupt opposing guards anywhere on the floor while also using his size and strength to stop them.’
      • ‘It involves a high post player and both guards, or a medium post man and a guard and forward, on the ball side of the floor.’
      • ‘There are times it will be necessary for the two guards to switch these responsibilities.’
      • ‘He's probably the best player to come out of the city or the best guard, certainly.’
      • ‘College basketball is a guard's game, and teams that win championships have great backcourts.’


    drop one's guard
    • Abandon one's habitual defensive or protective stance.

      ‘companies cannot afford to drop their guard when it comes to protecting their information’
      • ‘she was not ready to let down her guard and confide in him’
    guard of honour
    • A group of soldiers detailed to ceremonially welcome an important visitor.

      ‘Members of the Air Field Defence Wing provided the firing party and the guard of honour for receiving VIPs.’
      • ‘The Regiment formed a guard of honour before today's play commenced.’
      • ‘He was a special constable for 13 years and 60 police officers formed a guard of honour at his funeral.’
      • ‘A few yards away, their heads bowed, with rifles pointing towards the ground, stood their comrades, a guard of honour.’
      • ‘Peter's body, draped in the White Ensign, was committed to the sea while a guard of honour and the destroyers fired salutes.’
      • ‘After a refreshing bath they lined up like uniformed soldiers waiting to present a guard of honour.’
      • ‘It will be followed by a service for close family and friends and internment at Fulford Cemetery where members of the York team will form a guard of honour.’
      • ‘But his family went one step further and arranged a military funeral, with the Union flag draped on his coffin and a guard of honour.’
      • ‘The President was having lunch today with the Queen at Buckingham Palace after reviewing a guard of honour in the Palace quadrangle.’
      • ‘Old soldiers from an array of regiments rubbed shoulders with young cadets as Bobby's coffin was carried through a guard of honour.’
    off guard
    • Unprepared for a surprise or difficulty.

      ‘the government was caught off guard by the unexpected announcement’
      • ‘As we have already seen the fire can spread very rapidly and may catch the unwary off guard.’
      • ‘If I could catch him off guard it would give me just the edge I needed to send him crying into comic oblivion.’
      • ‘The sheer size of the dish caught me a little off guard at first, but senses restored, I found the rich pate to be delightful.’
      • ‘In South Korea, the decline has been so precipitous that it caught the government off guard.’
      • ‘Caught off guard, we had to ask for a little time to look at the drink menu.’
      • ‘Although he had been caught off guard by the timing, both politicians knew a parting of the ways had been inevitable.’
      • ‘Our first night of performances went out with a loud snap as a quick thunderstorm caught us off guard.’
      • ‘I have been dialling his mobile unsuccessfully and am caught off guard when the final try of the day yields an answer.’
      • ‘The reassuring physical presence of a property is enough to catch many people off guard.’
      • ‘In its place it revealed a country caught hopelessly off guard and then sold down the river by its own middle class.’
    on guard
    • 1On duty to protect or defend something.

      ‘security staff are permanently on guard’
      • ‘Some of the men had slipped away from the forward trenches, presumably those who were not actually meant to be on guard or patrol duty.’
      • ‘There would be no one on guard to protect the town from the Bandits.’
      • ‘Things soured after a six-year-old girl hurt herself when the dog on guard chased her in a bid to protect its family.’
      • ‘Another example shows Macdonald on guard outside the fort that protects Canadian industry.’
      • ‘It is midnight and around me, except for the soldiers out on operations or on guard, 5,000 fighting men and their support staff are sleeping.’
      1. 1.1Prepared for any contingency.
        ‘wine producers are constantly on guard against cheap imitations’
        • ‘Growing up in the UK, it took me twenty-two long years to feel secure enough to adopt the feminist label, and even then I was always on my guard, prepared for the usual assumption that I was a bit odd.’
        • ‘It has alerted us to be continually on our guard hence security at airports and elsewhere.’
        • ‘I find myself constantly on my guard while shopping for fear of muggers, on foot or cycle.’
        • ‘Constantly on his guard, he saves his passion for literature.’
        • ‘It teaches you to keep on your guard and keep alert.’
        • ‘If they come back we will be ready, we are on our guard.’
        • ‘We have to be on our guard continuously against new and emerging infectious diseases.’
        • ‘As Christians we must constantly be on our guard not to be conformed to the world but, rather, to be transformed in our every thought.’
        • ‘Instead it had become a whispered warning and reminder to be constantly on our guard.’
        • ‘He immediately refers back to the episode he had witnessed, using it as his main example of the need to remain constantly on one's guard against princely duplicity.’
    stand guard
    • Act as a guard.

      ‘armed men stood guard over makeshift roadblocks’
      • ‘Officers did not reveal whether any travel documents were found at the flat, where armed police today stood guard.’
      • ‘All day, U.S. choppers circled overhead, while on the ground, Iraqi police and soldiers stood guard.’
      • ‘Yesterday uniformed police officers stood guard outside the premises while forensic experts carried out a detailed search inside the premises.’
      • ‘Police stood guard at the edge of the pitch in that part of the ground to make sure there were no incursions on to the turf and checked media identification to keep the protesters out.’
      • ‘Before the trial began, police armed with submachine guns and shotguns stood guard as vans brought the handcuffed defendants to the courthouse.’
      • ‘The police stood guard downstairs before and during her visit.’
      • ‘Yesterday afternoon, officers were removing articles from the house in plastic bags as a uniformed policeman stood guard at the back door.’
      • ‘A group of uniformed and plainclothes police officers stood guard outside the ward, screening all visitors.’
      • ‘Police officers stood guard at either end of the churchyard on the morning after the assault and fielded questions from visitors to the church.’
      • ‘Floral tributes, many of them white roses and daffodils, were placed around a white flag of St George brought by a mourner, with a lone policeman standing guard.’
    take guard
    • (of a batsman) stand in position ready to receive the ball, especially having asked the umpire to check the position of one's bat with respect to the stumps.

      ‘Within two balls of taking guard, Harris was offered a wide long-hop by Morkel, and you know where those go.’
      • ‘No-one takes guard at the wicket and the outfield is as rough as a public park.’
      • ‘So, as Lara took guard, England were on the verge of the unthinkable, the first clean sweep of a series in the Caribbean by any visiting team.’
      • ‘Jones, whose batting form has been questionable throughout the series, took guard in the nets to face a few deliveries from lucky kids selected to bowl at him.’
      • ‘He is big, and broad and takes guard with a wide stance and hits the ball an enormous wallop.’
    under guard
    • Being guarded.

      ‘he was held in an empty stable under guard’
      • ‘While the Stafford family were not home at the time, the staff, including the butler, were held under guard while the men emptied the gun room, taking three rifles, fifteen shotguns and a large amount of ammunition.’
      • ‘He's been whisked away to an obscure place he didn't know he was going to, he had no choice in the matter, he can't leave, he is being held under guard by French and African soldiers, and he can't even use the phone.’
      • ‘Armed police turned up and he was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary by ambulance where he was kept under guard.’
      • ‘The only hopeful note in the article is that townspeople where the boy lived were so outraged that they stormed the cemetery when he was scheduled to be buried, and the burial had to be deferred and carried out under guard.’
      • ‘How would you like to be held prisoner in a hotel over the weekend, you can only watch certain movies, you can't get any phone calls, you're under guard.’
      • ‘And I'm sure that he's solitary, that he is under guard 24 hours a day, sort of personally.’
      • ‘The second member of the gang is under guard at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where he is receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the crash.’
      • ‘He was moved to Milad hospital and is kept under guard.’
      • ‘They've been free to catch the bus to school alone and ride their bikes to visit their mother at a nearby motel, where she's being kept under guard.’
      • ‘He was put under guard, court-martialled and shot at dawn.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘care, custody’): from Old French garde (noun), garder (verb), of West Germanic origin. Compare with ward.