fight a rearguard action

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fight a rearguard action

To try to stop something that likely cannot be prevented. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I know we're probably fighting a rearguard action against the board with this petition, but it's worth a try.
See also: action, fight
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fight a rearguard action

COMMON If you fight a rearguard action, you try hard to stop something happening when there is little possibility that you will succeed. Groups, both on the left and the right, are still fighting a rearguard action against the plan. Note: Other verbs are sometimes used instead of fight, such as mount and stage. The opposition party have mounted a desperate, rearguard action against economic reforms. Note: You can also just talk about a rearguard action. However, the rearguard action may prove too late. Note: The rearguard of a retreating army is a unit which separates from the rest and acts as a defence while the rest of the army is getting away.
See also: action, fight
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
Everton have been fighting a rearguard action for some time to keep Gueye since the Ligue 1 club made their interest known in January.
A decision has already been taken to devolve the assets but the CDA is fighting a rearguard action as the last thing it wants is to see power devolved to local government, thereby releasing its stranglehold over innumerable budgets and administrative functions.
That left Sunderland fighting a rearguard action for the remainder of the game, but they stood firm to earn a clean sheet and a point against the Championship leaders at Molineux.
France has been fighting a rearguard action since the commission began proceedings in March 2011.
The Vale lock was dismissed for kicking an opponent at a line-out and from then on the 14 men were always fighting a rearguard action.
POLAND is fighting a rearguard action to ensure a deal over the labelling and definition of 'vodka' drinks in the European Union (EU) gives only limited rights to producers using non-traditional ingredients.
Kevin Blackwell's men had spent the game fighting a rearguard action and needed a penalty save from Neil Sullivan to keep them in the match.
Since Hollywood invaded us in the 1920s, Canada has been fighting a rearguard action. With tongue in cheek (but also quite seriously), Rowe contends that "Canadian filmmakers are like an army.
In Bethesda, Trevor meets publican Jeff Davies who is still fighting a rearguard action against decimalisation.
"The Milosevic hard-liners are fighting a rearguard action, but the will of the people must prevail."
Ms Mowlam has been fighting a rearguard action to stay in Ulster amid intense speculation that Tony Blair would order her back to London.
Despite fighting a rearguard action for much of the game, Rotherham also had the game's other outstanding chance and should have led 22 seconds after the re-start.
The Mayo champs, who were always going to be fighting a rearguard action, were simply out of their depth from start to finish.