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a lifeguard on duty at a beach
the lifeguard (circled) on a High Speed Train powercar

Alternative forms[edit]


life +‎ guard, calque of Dutch lijfgarde, where life has the sense of Dutch lijf(body) hence bodyguard[1]. Compare German Leibgarde(bodyguard), Danish livgarde(bodyguard), Swedish livgarde(bodyguard). Compare also Old English līfweard(guardian of life).


lifeguard (plural lifeguards)

  1. A guard of the life or person; a guard that attends a prince or other person; a bodyguard.
  2. (chiefly US) An attendant, usually an expert swimmer, employed to save swimmers in trouble or near drowning at a body of water.
  3. A lifesaver.
  4. (rail transport) A sturdy metal bracket fixed in front of each of the leading wheels of a train to deflect small objects away from the wheels to prevent derailment.



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