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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — vanward

July 22, 2012

Word of the Day

  • vanward
  • audio pronunciation
  • \VAN-werd\


: located in the vanguard : advanced

The company is looking to hire a marketing director who is savvy in social media and other vanward marketing tactics.

"The New Jersey Festival of Electronic Arts, held today from 1 to 8 p.m. … is described as 'an exploration of electronic, environmental and performance art … where AV geeks are vanward and hip.''' — From an events listing in The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), March 10, 2012


The troops at the head of an army are called the "vanguard," and that word can also mean "the forefront of an action or movement." It was "vanguard," rather than "vanward," that led the way on the route into English. "Vanguard" was first documented in English in the 15th century. By the early 17th century, it was sometimes shortened to "van"—a reference might be made to an army's "van and rear." Some 200 years later "vanward" brought up the rear, making its English debut when writers appended "-ward," an adjective suffix meaning "is situated in the direction of," to the shortened "van," thereby creating a word meaning "in the forefront."


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.