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 ?
But my father spoke warmly of the French soldiers who, like him, fought the rearguard action to protect the soldiers on the beach.
It was a determined rearguard action which eventually made Suffolk bat again - even if just one run was required for a comprehensive 10-wicket win.
The author concentrates on the tactical aspects of British rearguard units during their withdrawal to Dunkirk, as well as what led up to it.
Rearguard Bond was fastest in the heats of the 750m Marathon with a front-running 47.32sec, while just two spots separated Friday Night Maidens 500 heat winners Swabys Millward (24.38sec), Young Rapid (24.39sec) and Wisteria (24.40sec).
Blues were fighting a decent rearguard action to stay in the Premier League, Albion needed a miracle.
After four consecutive wins marshalled by the former England defender, Liverpool's rearguard (seen here conceding the first goal) was all at sea on the Solent without him.
Summary: Kolkata: Describing as 'frustrating' India's rearguard resistance led by Ravichandran Ashwin which thwarted England's bid ...
The Arsenal manager feels much of that is down to having a settled rearguard, with the return to fitness of full-backs Kieran Gibbs - who scored his first league goal - and Bacary Sagna allowing a more balanced feel to their rearguard action.
And TN suffered injuries to North East duo Natalie Connor and Marie Ewing before mounting a brave rearguard action.
Former soldier John Davis, who fought in the rearguard said that "the sweet smell of death" was overwhelming as he and his comrades battled the German forces on the famous shoreline.
John Davis, who fought in the rearguard, described seeing "headless and limbless torsos with stomachs ripped out".
. ENGLAND still do not have a settled rearguard going into the World Cup and it gets more concerning as the tournament draws closer.
Summary: Bangladesh survived in day four of the first Test thanks to Junaid Siddique's rearguard action, but the result remains in little doubt.
Ross White also twice breached the visiting rearguard with further touch downs via Liam Lawton, Simon Verbickas and James Farrell.
Yorkshire did, at least, stage a rearguard action to grab a vital draw after Nottinghamshire had looked odds on to win at Scarborough.