v. guard·ed, guard·ing, guards
a. To watch over (a place or person, for example) in order to keep from being damaged, robbed, or injured: guard a bank; guarding a witness. See Synonyms at defend.
b. To supervise the entry and exit through; keep watch at: guard a door.
c. To watch over so as to prevent escape or violence: guard a prisoner.
d. To keep from risk or curtailment; ensure the safety or integrity of: jealously guarded his success; carefully guarded her privacy.
2. Sports To keep (an opposing player) from scoring or playing effectively, usually by remaining close to the player to disrupt offensive play.
3. To maintain control over, as to prevent indiscretion: Guard what you say.
4. To furnish (a device or object) with a part that protects people from harm or injury.
5. Archaic To escort as a guard.
1. To take precautions: guarded against illness by getting exercise.
2. To serve as a guard.
1. A person who protects, keeps watch, or acts as a sentinel: a prison guard.
a. The act or duty of guarding.
b. Protection; watch: The sheepdog kept guard over the herd.
3. Something that gives protection; a safeguard: a guard against tooth decay.
4. A device or attachment that prevents injury, damage, or loss, especially:
a. An attachment or covering put on a machine to protect the operator or a part of the machine.
b. A device on a foil, sword, or knife that protects the hand.
c. A padded covering worn to protect a body part from injury: a shin guard.
d. A small chain or band attached to a watch or bracelet to prevent loss.
e. A ring worn to prevent a more valuable ring from sliding off the finger.
5. An honor guard.
6. Chiefly British A railway employee in charge of a train.
7. Football One of the two offensive linemen on either side of the center.
8. Basketball Either of the two players normally positioned in the backcourt who are responsible for bringing the ball to and initiating offensive plays from the frontcourt.
9. Sports A defensive position or stance, as in boxing or fencing.
10. Electronics A signal that prevents accidental activation of a device or ambiguous interpretation of data.
off (one's) guard
Not alert; unprepared.
on (one's) guard
Alert and watchful; cautious.
1. To keep watch.
2. To act as a sentinel.
[Middle English garden, from Old French garder, guarder, of Germanic origin; see wer-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.