- a bar of wood or metal fixed horizontally for any of various purposes, as for a support, barrier, fence, or railing.
- a fence; railing.
- one of two fences marking the inside and outside boundaries of a racetrack.
- one of a pair of steel bars that provide the running surfaces for the wheels of locomotives and railroad cars.
- the railroad as a means of transportation: to travel by rail.
- rails, stocks or bonds of railroad companies.
- Nautical. a horizontal member capping a bulwark.
- Carpentry, Furniture. any of various horizontal members framing panels or the like, as in a system of paneling, paneled door, window sash, or chest of drawers.Compare stile2.
- Slang. a line of cocaine crystals or powder for inhaling through the nose.
- to furnish or enclose with a rail or rails.
Origin of rail1
- to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against): to rail at fate.
- to bring, force, etc., by railing.
Origin of rail2
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
- any of numerous birds of the family Rallidae, that have short wings, a narrow body, long toes, and a harsh cry and inhabit grasslands, forests, and marshes in most parts of the world.
Origin of rail3
Examples from the Web for rail
After the tunnel was complete, Schmidt went about building a rail line through it.The Mole Man’s Tunnel to Nowhere
November 28, 2014
Yes, it costs more to move oil by rail than it does by pipeline.Why the Keystone XL Pipeline May Not Be Built
November 19, 2014
Certainly, these costumes are easy to laugh at, but the time to rail against them has come and gone.In Defense of Slut-O-Ween
October 29, 2014
NWCAA inspectors did not visit the rail facility until five months after Tesoro had disconnected the problematic pipe.
Blaine stresses that he was not called to inspect the rail site.
It is an English habit to rail at the lavish expenditure of the French Government.The Roof of France
To use the one rein meant a crash into the rail, and surely death.
After he had gone, just as Allis was leaving the rail, she was again accosted; this time by Shandy.
Just watch the Indian, an' don't let him shut you in on the rail if you can help it.
"Wait, I'll come out;" and opening a door in the rail, he passed around to the girl.
- a horizontal bar of wood, metal, etc, supported by vertical posts, functioning as a fence, barrier, handrail, etc
- a horizontal bar fixed to a wall on which to hang thingsa picture rail
- a horizontal framing member in a door or piece of panellingCompare stile 2
- short for railing
- one of a pair of parallel bars laid on a prepared track, roadway, etc, that serve as a guide and running surface for the wheels of a railway train, tramcar, etc
- short for railway
- (as modifier)rail transport
- nautical a trim for finishing the top of a bulwark
- off the rails
- into or in a state of dysfunction or disorder
- eccentric or mad
- to provide with a rail or railings
- (usually foll by in or off) to fence (an area) with rails
- (intr ; foll by at or against) to complain bitterly or vehementlyto rail against fate
- any of various small wading birds of the genus Rallus and related genera: family Rallidae, order Gruiformes (cranes, etc). They have short wings, long legs, and dark plumage
Word Origin and History for rail
"horizontal bar passing from one post or support to another," c.1300, from Old French reille "bolt, bar," from Vulgar Latin *regla, from Latin regula "straight stick," diminutive form related to regere "to straighten, guide" (see regal). Used figuratively for thinness from 1872. To be off the rails in a figurative sense is from 1848, an image from the railroads. In U.S. use, "A piece of timber, cleft, hewed, or sawed, inserted in upright posts for fencing" [Webster, 1830].
"small wading bird," mid-15c., from Old French raale (13c.), related to râler "to rattle," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative of its cry.
"complain," mid-15c., from Middle French railler "to tease or joke" (15c.), perhaps from Old Provençal ralhar "scoff, to chat, to joke," from Vulgar Latin *ragulare "to bray" (cf. Italian ragghiare "to bray"), from Late Latin ragere "to roar," probably of imitative origin. See rally (v.2). Related: Railed; railing.
Idioms and Phrases with rail
see off the rails; thin as a rail; third rail.