bring up the rear

Idioms & Phrases

bring up the rear

Be last in a line or sequence, as in As a slow walker, I'm used to bringing up the rear, or In test results Tom always brought up the rear. This term almost certainly came from the military but the earliest citation given by the Oxford English Dictionary is from a 1643 religious treatise by Sir Thomas Browne: "My desires onely are . . . to be but the last man, and bring up the Rere in Heaven."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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