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avant-garde

[uh-vahnt-gahrd, uh-vant-, av-ahnt-, ah-vahnt-; French a-vahn-gard] /əˌvɑntˈgɑrd, əˌvænt-, ˌæv ɑnt-, ˌɑ vɑnt-; French a vɑ̃ˈgard/
noun
1.
the advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods.
adjective
2.
of or pertaining to the experimental treatment of artistic, musical, or literary material.
3.
belonging to the avant-garde:
an avant-garde composer.
4.
unorthodox or daring; radical.
Origin
1475-1485
1475-85; in sense “vanguard”; < French: literally, fore-guard. See vanguard
Related forms
avant-gardist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for avant-garde

avant-garde

/ˌævɒŋˈɡɑːd; French avɑ̃ɡard/
noun
1.
those artists, writers, musicians, etc, whose techniques and ideas are markedly experimental or in advance of those generally accepted
adjective
2.
of such artists, etc, their ideas, or techniques
3.
radical; daring
Derived Forms
avant-gardism, noun
avant-gardist, noun
Word Origin
from French: vanguard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for avant-garde
n.

(also avant garde, avantgarde); French, literally "advance guard" (see avant + guard (n.)). Used in English 15c.-18c. in a literal, military sense; borrowed again 1910 as an artistic term for "pioneers or innovators of a particular period." Also used around the same time in communist and anarchist publications. As an adjective, by 1925.

The avant-garde générale, avant-garde stratégique, or avant-garde d'armée is a strong force (one, two, or three army corps) pushed out a day's march to the front, immediately behind the cavalry screen. Its mission is, vigorously to engage the enemy wherever he is found, and, by binding him, to ensure liberty of action in time and space for the main army. ["Sadowa," Gen. Henri Bonnal, transl. C.F. Atkinson, 1907]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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