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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Percy Fielding, 84, who fought a rearguard action at Dunkirk, before joining the Parachute Regiment and taking part in the infamous A Bridge Too Far battle of Arnhem.
Because he couldn't swim Jimmy stayed with the wounded and fought a rearguard action, covering the withdrawal of fellow paras from the Oosterbeck pocket, before becoming a PoW.
Lee, 24, from Fife, fought a rearguard action during a breeze-up on parade in Hong Kong recently.