verb (used without object)

to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against): to rail at fate.

verb (used with object)

to bring, force, etc., by railing.

Origin of rail

1425–75; late Middle English railen < Middle French railler to deride < Provençal ralhar to chatter < Vulgar Latin *ragulāre, derivative of Late Latin ragere to bray
Related formsrail·er, nounrail·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for rail

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for railer

Historical Examples of railer

  • But you are a railer, and see nothing but the outside and the show.

    The Great Return

    Arthur Machen

  • Oh, you railer at royalty and slanderer of all that is noble and good!

    The Virginians

    William Makepeace Thackeray

  • "I know you are a railer," he said, and the phrase coming from this mild old gentleman astonished, me unutterably.

    The Great Return

    Arthur Machen

  • Clifford replied jestingly; and the jest, if bad, was good enough to content the railer.

    Paul Clifford, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Stilling himself relates how, when one at the table directed a gibe at him, it was Goethe who rebuked the railer.

    The Youth of Goethe

    Peter Hume Brown

British Dictionary definitions for railer




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
  1. short for railway
  2. (as modifier)rail transport
nautical a trim for finishing the top of a bulwark
off the rails
  1. into or in a state of dysfunction or disorder
  2. eccentric or mad

verb (tr)

to provide with a rail or railings
(usually foll by in or off) to fence (an area) with rails
Derived Formsrailless, adjective

Word Origin for rail

C13: from Old French raille rod, from Latin rēgula ruler, straight piece of wood




(intr ; foll by at or against) to complain bitterly or vehementlyto rail against fate
Derived Formsrailer, noun

Word Origin for rail

C15: from Old French railler to mock, from Old Provençal ralhar to chatter, joke, from Late Latin ragere to yell, neigh




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 for rail

C15: from Old French raale, perhaps from Latin rādere to scrape
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for railer



"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.



"fence in with rails," late 14c., from rail (n.1). Related: Railed; railing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with railer


see off the rails; thin as a rail; third rail.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.