The bank robbers guarded the hostages.

Can "guarded" be used in a context like this to mean "prevented the hostages from escaping" or can it only be used to mean "protected someone"?

2 Answers 2


Guard is usually used in the sense of displaying protection from/against something. But yes it can also be used to mean to watch over someone from escaping (like in your case, the hostages). So in this case, your sentence would be alright.

guard - watch over (someone) to prevent them from escaping. Source

  • 1
    Prisons have guards, and they are not there only (or mainly) to protect the inmates from harm. Oct 20, 2020 at 18:47
  • "The hostages were armed guard by the bank robbers." No, that is not idiomatic English
    – Kevin
    Oct 20, 2020 at 19:22
  • @MichaelHarvey Well, I wrote that only. I mean, also to prevent the inmates from escaping. One of the prima reason. You think that is wrong? Should I change it to something else? Oct 20, 2020 at 19:22
  • @DhanishthaGhosh I would just take out the second half of your answer
    – Kevin
    Oct 20, 2020 at 19:27
  • @Kevin Yeah it will be fine. I mean OP's question could be answered apart from it also. Oct 20, 2020 at 19:28

This is a possible sentence, and the context would suggest it means "prevented from escaping". For example prison guards prevent prisoners from escaping.

It is a rather unusual context, and I'd be surprised if a learner actually found themselves in a situation in which this was a natural thing to say.

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