- a rail laid parallel and adjacent to the running rails of an electrified railroad to provide electric current to the motors of a car or locomotive through contact shoes.
- an additional running rail laid on the same ties as the two regular rails of a railroad track to provide a multigauge capability.
Origin of third rail
Examples from the Web for third rail
And then there is the third-rail issue that is particularly electric in a state with so many retirees.
Marriage equality is not remotely the third-rail issue it is sometimes considered.Andrew Cuomo Renews Push for Gay Marriage in New York|John Avlon|June 12, 2011|DAILY BEAST
A great rate of speed can be gained with the third-rail system, ten miles having been made in thirteen and a half minutes.
It was originally on the third-rail system, but was changed into an ordinary overhead trolley seven or eight years ago.One Irish Summer|William Eleroy Curtis
He may perfect a third-rail system for use on moving trains.The History of the Telephone|Herbert N. Casson
The third-rail system in its simplest form is shown in Fig. 29, which represents a section through the roadbed.
They had traveled by the third-rail line twenty miles into the country.The Crystal Ball|Roy J. Snell
British Dictionary definitions for third rail
- a cause or topic that is considered extremely dangerous for a person to support or comment on
- (as modifier)a third-rail issue
Idioms and Phrases with third rail
Something that is dangerous to tamper with, as in Anything concerning veterans is a political third rail. This term alludes to the rail that supplies the high voltage powering an electric train, so called since 1918. On the other hand, grab hold of the third rail means “become energized.” Both shifts from the original meaning date from the late 1900s.