From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Vanguard \Van"guard`\, n. [For vantguard, avantguard, F.
   avant-garde; avant before, fore + garde guard. See Avant,
   Ab-,Ante-, and Guard, and cf. Advance, Vamp, Van
   of an army, Vaward.] (Mil.)
   The troops who march in front of an army; the advance guard;
   the van.
   [1913 Webster]
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