Definition of guard in English:



  • 1 Watch over in order to protect or control.

    ‘they were sent to guard villagers from attack by bandits’
    ‘the gates were guarded by uniformed soldiers’
    • ‘She believes in the power of rehabilitation and redemption for the women she is responsible for guarding and protecting.’
    • ‘White's Queen is placed on a safe square where it guards the c-pawn and stares ravenously at Black's pawn on e5.’
    • ‘The moon guarded and watched over her children, and Raine's group was no exception.’
    • ‘He kept everybody safe and guarded all of us; making sure that we were always out of harm's way.’
    • ‘It is said that a guardian angel is assigned to every person to guard and protect her or his body and soul.’
    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. 1.1Watch over (someone) to prevent them escaping.
      ‘his task was to help guard Japanese soldiers’
      • ‘Third, the excessive number of soldiers to guard the borders is becoming a burden on the local population.’
      • ‘The wretched soldiers were still guarding the cannon.’
      • ‘Following the disturbances in Belize City, soldiers could be seen guarding some buildings, while residents appeared to be getting on with their lives.’
      • ‘Heavily armed soldiers guarded the few churches which held Sunday services, witnesses said.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Soldiers guarding the settlement fired back, killing two attackers and wounding a third man who fled back into the sea.’
      • ‘Just think how much fun it will be for the American soldiers to guard that part of town during the Occupation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's believed the soldiers will guard the control tower, the large fuel tanks and parts of the runway at certain times.’
      • ‘They have their own budgets and their own suppliers, and jealously guard the areas they control.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Violence spread to other fuel outlets and crowds threw stones at soldiers guarding the main British headquarters.’
      • ‘The front gate had two soldiers wielding automatic firearms guarding the outside.’
      • ‘Another witness had seen three container trucks during the same period, with armed soldiers guarding the trucks.’
      • ‘A grenade was thrown from a car toward soldiers guarding a checkpoint.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘US soldiers guarding the gate usually stand about 20 yards from the road behind coils of barbed wire and concrete barriers.’
      • ‘A few weeks ago the 47-year old olive farmer suffered a heart attack during a scuffle with the soldiers guarding the wall.’
    2. 1.2Watch over (someone) to prevent them from escaping.
      ‘police officers were guarding inmates who could not be accommodated in prison’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Since I was one of the few women, and the only unarmed prisoner, I was guarded in a more lax manner than the others.’
      • ‘We do have people contracted to guard 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.’
      • ‘American marines guarding the prisoners said they had complained that their own officers had shot at them during the battle.’
      • ‘Seventy percent of those who guard women prisoners are men.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While he was guarding the prisoners, some of the other platoon members poured boiled water over them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then he was moved to more common military police duties including convoy security and guarding the prisoners at Camp Bucca.’
      • ‘Even when this crisis is over, there are police officers who will work at guarding prisoners.’
      • ‘The alleged victim claimed she was raped in prison toilets while guarding a prisoner at Warrington General Hospital.’
      • ‘Any period of industrial action would see the army called in to guard prisoners.’
      • ‘He said their work was consistent with the Geneva Convention and the responsibility for guarding the prisoners remained with the US.’
    3. 1.3[no object]Take precautions against.
      ‘farmers must guard against sudden changes in the market’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It seems unlikely that such operations could be militarily important, but they could be politically important and must be guarded against.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Such risks must be guarded against at all costs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Do you feel that this is the real you and you must guard against anyone knowing it?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While there is a strong case to be made to free up some land, Ireland must guard against panic proposals.’
      • ‘Likewise, American over-reaction, especially of the military variety, must be guarded against.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The signs are that it won't, but those involved must guard against becoming part of the very culture they are out to combat.’
      • ‘We all know about the problems of obesity in youngsters, and of course we must guard against this.’
      • ‘We must also guard against them raiding and exploiting our rich genetic pool.’
      • ‘Instead, we must be vigilant in guarding against the distasteful practice of having unfavourable preconceived notions against individuals based on their origin.’
      • ‘Given the undoubted complexity of this claim I must guard against conducting any form of mini-trial.’
    4. 1.4Protect against damage or harm.
      ‘the company fiercely guarded its independence’
      • ‘Members - collectively called Pathans - guard a fierce independence where guns, drugs and contraband are a way of life.’
      • ‘Siblings are very close to and protective of one another; brothers fiercely guard their sisters' honor.’
      • ‘It was clear that, on the contrary, the ex-colonies jealously and for the most part successfully guarded their independence.’
      • ‘The Kodavas have fiercely guarded their tradition and customs as well as their uniqueness.’
      • ‘These committees have always jealously guarded their independence.’
      • ‘The following years were characterized by rifts with Russia, in which the Ukraine jealously guarded its own independence against its overbearing neighbour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is adamant that he will never marry again and guards his new-found freedom fiercely.’
      • ‘But universities are likely to guard their independence jealously.’
      • ‘Naturally more recently independent States wish to do the same and thus fiercely guard their Westphalian sovereignty.’
      • ‘Even those who are well known, for whatever reason, will fiercely guard their privacy.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5Basketball
      Stay close to (an opponent) in order to prevent a good shot, pass, or drive.
      • ‘His stance is not quite as low as it would be guarding the ball handler, but he is still down and ready to move.’
      • ‘The closer to the basket your player is, the closer you should guard them.’
      • ‘I pride myself on scoring more points than the guy I'm guarding.’
      • ‘This illustration shows offensive player 3 with the ball and being guarded by zone player 4.’
      • ‘Sometimes you'll have your back slightly turned to guard the ball.’


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

    ‘a security guard’
    [as modifier] ‘he distracted the soldier 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I am protected by guards, have access to cars, the entire secure compound, you name it.’
    • ‘There are more and more prisoners, but the guards can't control 100 more prisoners every month.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She watched the two guards slowly walk towards each other.’
    • ‘Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.’
    • ‘The men are to be watched, the guards reinforced.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There were two guards watching the vault where the prisoners were.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Andrew waited until none of the guards were watching and quickly dove into the the Humvee.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They witnessed the cruelty of German guards and watched as Allied bombers leveled German cities.’
    • ‘Wily lookouts kept watch for German guards, calling out codewords as a warning.’
    sentry, sentinel, security guard, nightwatchman
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[treated as singular or plural]A body of soldiers serving to protect a place or person.
      ‘the hound belonged to a member of the castle's guard’
      • ‘A third line of defence was the bourgeois militia or citizen guard.’
      • ‘She'd only been a member of the guard for six days, but already had bested some higher ranking guards in practices.’
      • ‘There is a change of guard at the top of the main reconstruction body.’
      • ‘ARF is the reserves, and among other things it's where members of the guard are sent for disciplinary reasons.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A military honor guard was fired for saying ‘God bless you’ as he handed the flag over at funerals.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some members of the families wept as a military honour guard carried the coffins of the five into a specially erected marquee.’
      • ‘The much-awaited change of guard in the military would follow the latest TNI reshuffle which affected 118 officers.’
      • ‘The three friends moved behind the wall with the King of Acarin and a few of members of his royal guard.’
    2. 1.2The household troops of the British army.
      • ‘The city Guard is convinced that the city needs more Guards!’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3North 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.’
      • ‘Prisoners, guards, prison administrators and many others were called to testify under oath in exhaustive hearings.’
      • ‘The two guards of the prison automatically dropped to one knee.’
      • ‘The receptionist skidded along the tile floor towards the alarm button to alert the remaining guards of a prison break.’
      • ‘Of course, the guards saw the prison break and sounded the alarm.’
      • ‘Thus, a few years ago it was held to be unconstitutional for a prison guard to hit an inmate.’
      • ‘In some cases, the detainees have been subject to harassment by prison guards and rough treatment that has left them bloodied.’
      • ‘Showing that a prison guard should have known is not enough, no matter how obvious the signs of abuse.’
      • ‘There didn't seem to be any more guards in the prison area.’
      • ‘But weeks after the rape, she mustered courage and sobbed out the story of her torture by the prison guard to the jail boss.’
      • ‘He was transferred to the harsher conditions of Alcatraz for killing a prison guard at Leavenworth.’
      • ‘The other involves a rape case that examines regulations about whether male prison guards can supervise female inmates.’
      • ‘In May 1996, I entered the execution chamber with Robert and a team of prison guards.’
      • ‘The accounts have been based not only on the word of detainees, but of prison guards, translators, FBI agents and others.’
      • ‘Wardens and prison guards dislike drugs for the same reason we dislike them.’
      • ‘He went on hunger strike for a day after prison guards threw him into solitary confinement.’
      • ‘He also disciplined prison guards for screaming at inmates.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘4,100 young people are housed in these facilities, which are operated by wardens and prison guards.’
    4. 1.4British An official who rides on and is in general charge of a train.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was initially helped by nearby passengers and a train guard gave him first aid and tried to resuscitate him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's all about the number of guards on each train.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Instead of a guard on every train we have ‘station assistants’ on platforms.’
      • ‘‘The pressure on guards and train crew is increasing all the time,’ said a guard on Silverlink.’
      • ‘South West Trains tried to remove guards from its trains or downgrade their role, hitting safety.’
      • ‘I asked the guard what time the train got back to Salford.’
      • ‘Bus conductors improve safety, as do guards on tubes and trains, which have nearly all been abolished now, and as do staff in stations.’
      • ‘Plug sockets for laptops and mobiles, decent seats, quiet trains, no guards to check the tickets - it's all an improvement.’
      • ‘It's a step towards bringing back guards on the trains, which is what the RMT is calling for.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was his 54th birthday, and he was looking forward to starting another working day as the guard on the train.’
      • ‘These were the employees who operated the railway: the station staff, the signalmen, the shunters and the guards on the trains.’
      • ‘We should have told them you will not have any guards on trains until you settle with us.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Running staff, drivers of passenger and good trains, guards and locomotive inspectors are involved in the dispute.’
    5. 1.5American Football
      Each of two offensive players positioned either side of the center.
      • ‘A guard, tight end or running back can help Jones, giving him an advantage in passing situations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    6. 1.6Basketball
      Each of two backcourt players chiefly responsible for running the team's offense.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘College basketball is a guard's game, and teams that win championships have great backcourts.’
      • ‘He's probably the best player to come out of the city or the best guard, certainly.’
      • ‘He was quick enough to disrupt opposing guards anywhere on the floor while also using his size and strength to stop them.’
      • ‘There are times it will be necessary for the two guards to switch these responsibilities.’
  • 2A device worn or fitted to prevent injury or damage.

    ‘a retractable blade guard’
    • ‘Also, make sure the bike has spoke guards to prevent the child's feet from getting caught in the spokes.’
    • ‘The guard also prevents damage if the car bottoms-out over ruts or dips in the road.’
    • ‘Minerva did not know that the mouth guards worn by boxers, rugby players, and other competitors were meant to protect the wearer from concussion.’
    • ‘Encouraging your child to use a mouth guard during sports can also prevent serious dental injuries.’
    • ‘The appropriate use of mouth guards and face shields should be advocated.’
    • ‘To prevent tooth injuries, children should wear facemasks and mouth guards while playing sports.’
    • ‘Wrist guards help prevent fractured wrists, one of the most common injuries among in-line skaters.’
    • ‘Except the world-renowned rugby player had swapped his mouth guard for a corsage and his number two jersey for a tuxedo.’
    • ‘Mesh gutter guards will help prevent clogs in the future.’
    • ‘Lock windows or use guards to prevent them from opening too far.’
    • ‘Soft plastic mouth guards, or occlusal splints, may be needed to prevent damage from trauma, as in sports injuries, or bruxism.’
    • ‘The patient grimaces, clamping down on a mouth guard designed to prevent tongue-biting and broken teeth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Mr Jeffs also urged residents to buy letterbox guards that prevent items being posted through.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All the trees would be surrounded by guards to prevent damage from sheep and other animals.’
    safety guard, safety device, protective device, shield, bulwark, screen, fence, fender, bumper, buffer, cushion, pad
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A chain attached to a watch or bracelet to prevent loss.
  • 3A defensive posture adopted in a boxing, fencing, or martial arts contest or in a fight.

    ‘this kick can curl around an otherwise effective guard’
    • ‘Taking turns with your partner drilling the swinging armbar from the guard is an example of this sort of drill.’
    • ‘Here Shaolin demonstrates how he likes to jump to the half guard and then sweep his opponent.’
    • ‘From butterfly guard, of course, you also have the option of returning to the half guard.’
    • ‘The butterfly guard is one of the most powerful ways to sweep your opponent.’
    • ‘One year is the year of the half guard; another is the year of the ankle lock.’
    • ‘Most often it is applied from the guard, but can be used in many other positions as well.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many fighters now just practise triangle chokes, armbars and sweeps, all from the guard.’
    • ‘You start with your opponent in the closed guard and a grip on his sleeve and lapel.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 3.1A state of caution, vigilance, or preparedness against adverse circumstances.
      ‘he let his guard slip enough to make some unwise comments’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘As a newspaper reader, you especially need to keep your guard up.’
      • ‘I think it is useful that, on a periodic basis, we keep our guard up.’


  • keep (or stand) guard

    • Act as a guard.

      • ‘A group of uniformed and plainclothes police officers stood guard outside the ward, screening all visitors.’
      • ‘The police stood guard downstairs before and during her visit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yesterday uniformed police officers stood guard outside the premises while forensic experts carried out a detailed search inside the premises.’
      • ‘All day, U.S. choppers circled overhead, while on the ground, Iraqi police and soldiers stood guard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Police officers stood guard at either end of the churchyard on the morning after the assault and fielded questions from visitors to the church.’
      • ‘Yesterday afternoon, officers were removing articles from the house in plastic bags as a uniformed policeman stood guard at the back door.’
      • ‘Officers did not reveal whether any travel documents were found at the flat, where armed police today stood guard.’
  • lower (or let down) one's guard

    • 1Relax one's defensive posture, leaving oneself vulnerable to attack.

      ‘if you lower your guard or take a step backward, I will throw in the towel’
      • ‘The troops should continue doing their jobs, without making a fuss about the attacks, though of course they must not lower their guard.’
      • ‘You should not do such things, but you must remember never to lower your guard.’
      • ‘But just because you have protection and patches against those viruses in place does not mean you should lower your guard against other threats.’
      • ‘So, apparently, India cannot afford to lower her guard on the border.’
      • ‘Dravid also cautioned his team-mates not to take Pakistan lightly and lower their guard in the crucial match.’
      • ‘But you are bound to lower your guard and then the trickster strikes.’
      • ‘She will show herself, soon as we lower our guard.’
      • ‘I can sometimes lower my guard and when that happens I receive a lot of punches.’
      • ‘You'll lower your guard, and that's when you're most vulnerable.’
      • ‘This is exactly what he wants to happen, for us to lower our guard and then he will come.’
      1. 1.1Reduce one's level of vigilance or caution.
        ‘she was not ready to let down her guard and confide in him’
        • ‘If we lower our guard it will be the beginning of the end.’
        • ‘Maybe if he gained a little confidence in her he would lower his guard.’
        • ‘Settling into a routine can cause you to lower your guard and stray from basic procedures.’
        • ‘She looked up at Burke, the tears in her eyes forcing him to lower his guard completely.’
        • ‘Familiarity made her lower her guard for just an instant.’
        • ‘She considered his argument, then allowed herself to lower her guard.’
        • ‘However, their high spirits caused them to lower their guard.’
        • ‘An additional reason for caution is that sometimes people pose as prospective employers in order to get former bosses or educators to lower their guard and reveal sensitive information that they use improperly.’
        • ‘But when you find yourself with that most precious of commodities, free time, you are likely to lower your guard.’
        • ‘Although he had been with the team for a little over six months, there was no way that he would ever lower his guard around them.’
  • off guard

    • Unprepared for some surprise or difficulty.

      ‘the government was caught off guard by the unexpected announcement’
      • ‘If I could catch him off guard it would give me just the edge I needed to send him crying into comic oblivion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Our first night of performances went out with a loud snap as a quick thunderstorm caught us off guard.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As we have already seen the fire can spread very rapidly and may catch the unwary off guard.’
      • ‘I have been dialling his mobile unsuccessfully and am caught off guard when the final try of the day yields an answer.’
      • ‘Although he had been caught off guard by the timing, both politicians knew a parting of the ways had been inevitable.’
      unprepared, unready, inattentive, unwary, unwatchful, with one's defences down, by surprise, cold, unsuspecting
      napping, asleep on the job, asleep at the wheel, on the hop
      View synonyms
  • on guard

    • 1On duty to protect or defend something.

      • ‘Things soured after a six-year-old girl hurt herself when the dog on guard chased her in a bid to protect its family.’
      • ‘There would be no one on guard to protect the town from the Bandits.’
      • ‘Another example shows Macdonald on guard outside the fort that protects Canadian industry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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; vigilant.
        ‘we must be on guard against such temptation’
        • ‘It has alerted us to be continually on our guard hence security at airports and elsewhere.’
        • ‘It teaches you to keep on your guard and keep alert.’
        • ‘Constantly on his guard, he saves his passion for literature.’
        • ‘I find myself constantly on my guard while shopping for fear of muggers, on foot or cycle.’
        • ‘We have to be on our guard continuously against new and emerging infectious diseases.’
        • ‘Instead it had become a whispered warning and reminder to be constantly on our guard.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘If they come back we will be ready, we are on our guard.’
        vigilant, alert, on the alert, wary, watchful, cautious, careful, heedful, chary, circumspect, on the lookout, on the qui vive, on one's toes, prepared, ready, wideawake, attentive, observant, keeping one's eyes peeled
        all ears, beady-eyed, on the ball, not missing a trick, keeping a weather eye on things, cagey, leery
        regardful, argus-eyed
        View synonyms
  • put up one's guard

    • Adopt a defensive posture.

      • ‘The group put up their guard and Shu was put in the centre of their tightly knit circle to keep him from direct harm.’
      • ‘It was the times when he reminded her of the Tyler she knew in high school that made her put up her guard.’
      • ‘At the mention of her husband she immediately put up her guard.’
      • ‘There was a little desperation in his voice and it immediately made her put up her guard.’
      • ‘As soon as he enters the room, the old woman begins to be suspicious and puts up her guard.’
      • ‘I put up my guard, but there wasn't anything wrong with playing along!’
  • under guard

    • Being guarded.

      ‘he was held in an empty stable 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And I'm sure that he's solitary, that he is under guard 24 hours a day, sort of personally.’
      • ‘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 moved to Milad hospital and is kept under guard.’
      • ‘He was put under guard, court-martialled and shot at dawn.’
      • ‘Armed police turned up and he was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary by ambulance where he was kept under guard.’
      • ‘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'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.’
      • ‘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.’


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