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[reyl-split-er] /ˈreɪlˌsplɪt ər/
a person or thing that splits logs into rails, especially for fences.
(initial capital letter) nickname of Abraham Lincoln.
Origin of rail-splitter
An Americanism dating back to 1855-60; rail1 + splitter Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rail-splitter
Historical Examples
  • Here is where Lincoln gained his great reputation as a rail-splitter.

    Hidden Treasures

    Harry A. Lewis
  • A friend, with his eyes aglow, asked me what I thought of 'Abe' Lincoln, the rail-splitter.

    Lincoln's Yarns and Stories Alexander K. McClure
  • They disliked to hear so much about "honest Old Abe," "the rail-splitter," "the flat-boatman," "the pioneer."

  • Well, I tell you: my old man is the rail-splitter, and my old master sent us to split rails, and dat is all we does.

  • The rail-splitter of the Sangamon became the most honored and respected man of his generation.

    Abraham Lincoln William Eleroy Curtis
  • Ludicrous perhaps, but to the point; the "rail-splitter" was not always dignified, but often judicious.

  • What they seemed proudest of was that he had been a rail-splitter, for nearly all bore a fence-rail.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • These rails have become classical in our history, and the name of rail-splitter has been more than the degree of a college.

  • People who doubted the will or the wisdom of their rail-splitter Candidate need have had no fear.

  • It took me many years to find out what a rail-splitter was; but the rail-splitter's name was Lincoln, and he became my first hero.

    From the Bottom Up

    Alexander Irvine
Word Origin and History for rail-splitter

1853, from rail (n.1) + agent noun from split (v.). Usually with reference to or suggestion of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, as it figured in his political biography.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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