• synonyms


  1. a person or thing that splits logs into rails, especially for fences.
  2. (initial capital letter) nickname of Abraham Lincoln.
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Origin of rail-splitter

An Americanism dating back to 1855–60; rail1 + splitter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper