on one's guard

on one's guard

verb (used with object)

  1. to keep safe from harm or danger; protect; watch over: to guard the ruler.
  2. to keep under close watch in order to prevent escape, misconduct, etc.: to guard a prisoner.
  3. to keep under control or restraint as a matter of caution or prudence: to guard one’s temper.
  4. to provide or equip with some safeguard or protective appliance, as to prevent loss, injury, etc.
  5. Sports. to position oneself so as to obstruct or impede the movement or progress of (an opponent on offense): The linebacker moved to his right to guard the end going out for a pass.
  6. Chess. to protect (a piece or a square) by placing a piece in a supportive or defensive position relative to it.

verb (used without object)

  1. to take precautions (usually followed by against): to guard against errors.
  2. to give protection; keep watch; be watchful.


  1. a person or group of persons that guards, protects, or keeps a protective or restraining watch.
  2. a person who keeps watch over prisoners or others under restraint.
  3. a body of people, especially soldiers, charged with guarding a place from disturbance, theft, fire, etc.
  4. a close watch, as over a prisoner or other person under restraint: to be kept under guard.
  5. a device, appliance, or attachment that prevents injury, loss, etc.
  6. something intended or serving to guard or protect; safeguard: insurance as a guard against disasters.
  7. a posture of defense or readiness, as in fencing, boxing, or bayonet drill.
  8. Football.
    1. either of the linemen stationed between a tackle and the center.
    2. the position played by this lineman.
  9. Basketball. either of the players stationed in the backcourt.
  10. Chess. a piece that supports or defends another.
  11. Cards. a low card that is held with a high card of the same suit and that enables the holder to save the high card for a later trick.
  12. British. a railroad conductor.
  13. Guards, the name of certain bodies of troops in the British army.


  1. off guard, unprepared; unwary: The blow from behind caught him off guard.Also off one’s guard.
  2. on guard, vigilant; wary: on guard against dishonest merchants.Also on one’s guard.
  3. stand guard over, to watch over; protect: The dog stood guard over his wounded master.


  1. to watch over or shield (a person or thing) from danger or harm; protect
  2. to keep watch over (a prisoner or other potentially dangerous person or thing), as to prevent escape
  3. (tr) to controlto guard one’s tongue
  4. (intr usually foll by against) to take precautions
  5. to control entrance and exit through (a gate, door, etc)
  6. (tr) to provide (machinery, etc) with a device to protect the operator
  7. (tr)
    1. chess cardsto protect or cover (a chess man or card) with another
    2. curling bowlsto protect or cover (a stone or bowl) by placing one’s own stone or bowl between it and another player
  8. (tr) archaic to accompany as a guard


  1. a person or group who keeps a protecting, supervising, or restraining watch or control over people, such as prisoners, things, etcRelated adjective: custodial
  2. a person or group of people, such as soldiers, who form a ceremonial escortguard of honour
  3. British the official in charge of a train
    1. the act or duty of protecting, restraining, or supervising
    2. (as modifier)guard duty
  4. Irish another word for garda
  5. a device, part, or attachment on an object, such as a weapon or machine tool, designed to protect the user against injury, as on the hilt of a sword or the trigger of a firearm
  6. anything that provides or is intended to provide protectiona guard against infection
    1. another name for safety chain
    2. a long neck chain often holding a chatelaine
  7. See guard ring
  8. sport an article of light tough material worn to protect any of various parts of the body
  9. basketball
    1. the position of the two players in a team who play furthest from the basket
    2. a player in this position
  10. the posture of defence or readiness in fencing, boxing, cricket, etc
  11. take guard cricket (of a batsman) to choose a position in front of the wicket to receive the bowling, esp by requesting the umpire to indicate his position relative to the stumps
  12. give guard cricket (of an umpire) to indicate such a position to a batsman
  13. off one’s guard having one’s defences down; unprepared
  14. on one’s guard prepared to face danger, difficulties, etc
  15. stand guard (of a military sentry, etc) to keep watch
  16. mount guard
    1. (of a sentry) to begin to keep watch
    2. (with over)to take up a protective or defensive stance (over something)

n.early 15c., “one who keeps watch,” from Middle French garde “guardian, warden, keeper; watching, keeping, custody,” from Old French garder “to keep, maintain, preserve, protect” (corresponding to Old North French warder, see gu-), from Frankish *wardon, from Proto-Germanic *wardo- “to guard” (see ward (v.)). Abstract or collective sense of “a keeping, a custody” (as in bodyguard) also is from early 15c. Sword-play and fisticuffs sense is from 1590s. Guard-rail attested from 1860. v.mid-15c., from guard (n.) or from Old French garder “to keep watch over, guard, protect.” Related: Guarded; guarding. see under off guard. see off guard; stand guard.

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