During war, troops coming onshore into enemy territory sometimes set up a beachhead, a temporary line of defense they hold until more soldiers arrive.

The World War II term beachhead gets its name from the fact that seagoing forces have landed on a beach. It's also influenced by the earlier bridgehead, a defended position at one end of a bridge. As troops on a beachhead wait for reinforcements, they take a position that's safe and secure, from which they can defend themselves and anticipate advancing further. Figuratively, a beachhead can also be the first step you take toward achievement or progress.

Definitions of beachhead

n a bridgehead on the enemy's shoreline seized by an amphibious operation

“the Germans were desperately trying to contain the Anzio beachhead
Type of:
bridgehead, foothold
an area in hostile territory that has been captured and is held awaiting further troops and supplies

n an initial accomplishment that opens the way for further developments

“the town became a beachhead in the campaign to ban smoking outdoors”
Type of:
accomplishment, achievement
the action of accomplishing something

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