verb (used with object)

  1. to take care of and support up to maturity: to rear a child.
  2. to breed and raise (livestock).
  3. to raise by building; erect.
  4. to raise to an upright position: to rear a ladder.
  5. to lift or hold up; elevate; raise.

verb (used without object)

  1. to rise on the hind legs, as a horse or other animal.
  2. (of a person) to start up in angry excitement, hot resentment, or the like (usually followed by up).
  3. to rise high or tower aloft: The skyscraper rears high over the neighboring buildings.
  1. rear its (ugly) head. head(def 85).


  1. the back or hind part
  2. the area or position that lies at the backa garden at the rear of the house
  3. the section of a military force or procession farthest from the front
  4. the buttocksSee buttock
  5. bring up the rear to be at the back in a procession, race, etc
  6. in the rear at the back
  7. (modifier) of or in the rearthe rear legs; the rear side


  1. (tr) to care for and educate (children) until maturity; bring up; raise
  2. (tr) to breed (animals) or grow (plants)
  3. (tr) to place or lift (a ladder, etc) upright
  4. (tr) to erect (a monument, building, etc); put up
  5. (intr often foll by up) (esp of horses) to lift the front legs in the air and stand nearly upright
  6. (intr ; often foll by up or over) (esp of tall buildings) to rise high; tower
  7. (intr) to start with anger, resentment, etc

c.1300, from Old French rere (see rear (n.)).


“attack in the rear,” 17c., from rear (n.).


“hindmost part,” c.1600, abstracted from rerewarde “rear guard, hindmost part of an army or fleet” (mid-14c.), from Anglo-French rerewarde, Old French rieregarde, from Old French adverb riere “behind” (from Latin retro “back, behind;” see retro-) + Old French garde (see guard (n.)). Or the word may be a shortened form of arrear (see arrears).

As a euphemism for “buttocks” it is attested from 1796. Rear admiral is first attested 1580s, apparently so called from ranking “behind” an admiral proper. Rear-view (mirror) is recorded from 1926.


Old English ræran “to raise, build up, create, set on end; arouse, excite, stir up,” from Proto-Germanic *raizijanau “to raise,” causative of *risanan “to rise” (see raise (v.)). Meaning “bring into being, bring up” (as a child) is recorded from early 15c.; that of “raise up on the hind legs” is first recorded late 14c. Related: Reared; rearing.

In addition to the idioms beginning with rear

  • rear end
  • rear its ugly head

also see:

  • bring up the rear

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