verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

Origin of train

1350–1400; (v.) late Middle English traynyn to pull or drag in the rear < Middle French trainer, Old French tra(h)iner < Vulgar Latin *tragīnāre, derivative of *tragīna something dragged or drawn (compare Medieval Latin tragīna carriage), derivative of *tragere to pull, for Latin trahere; (noun) Middle English train, traine < Old French tra(h)in (masculine) series of people, animals, or things, tra(h)ine (feminine) something dragged behind, both derivative of tra(h)iner
Related formstrain·less, adjectivehalf-trained, adjectivemin·i·train, nounmis·train, verbnon·trained, adjectiveo·ver·train, verbpre·train, verb (used with object)self-trained, adjectivesem·i·trained, adjectivesu·per·train, verbun·der·train, verb (used with object)un·der·trained, adjectiveun·trained, adjectivewell-trained, adjective

Synonym study

18, 19. See teach.

Synonyms for train Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for train

Contemporary Examples of train

Historical Examples of train

  • They walked rapidly to the station, but too late, of course, for the train.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The lawyer left them at the next station to wait for a train back to Butte.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • As the train started he swung himself off with a sad little "Be good to yourself!"

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And now, as the train took her swiftly to her fate, she made the best of it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He is to be taken to the depot, to go to Virginia in the first train.

British Dictionary definitions for train



(tr) to guide or teach (to do something), as by subjecting to various exercises or experiencesto train a man to fight
(tr) to control or guide towards a specific goalto train a plant up a wall
(intr) to do exercises and prepare for a specific purposethe athlete trained for the Olympics
(tr) to improve or curb by subjecting to disciplineto train the mind
(tr) to focus or bring to bear (on something)to train a telescope on the moon


  1. a line of coaches or wagons coupled together and drawn by a railway locomotive
  2. (as modifier)a train ferry
a sequence or series, as of events, thoughts, etca train of disasters
a procession of people, vehicles, etc, travelling together, such as one carrying supplies of ammunition or equipment in support of a military operation
a series of interacting parts through which motion is transmitteda train of gears
a fuse or line of gunpowder to an explosive charge, etc
something drawn along, such as the long back section of a dress that trails along the floor behind the wearer
a retinue or suite
proper order or course
Derived Formstrainable, adjectivetrainless, adjective

Word Origin for train

C14: from Old French trahiner, from Vulgar Latin tragīnāre (unattested) to draw; related to Latin trahere to drag
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 train

early 14c., "a drawing out, delay," later "trailing part of a skirt" (mid-15c.), also "retinue, procession" (mid-15c.), from Old French train (fem. traine), from trainer "to pull, draw," from Vulgar Latin *traginare, extended from *tragere "to pull," back-formation from tractus, past participle of Latin trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Train of thought first attested 1650s. The railroad sense is recorded from 1820 (publication year, dated 1816), from notion of a "train" of wagons or carriages pulled by a mechanical engine.


"instruct, discipline, teach," 1540s, probably from earlier sense of "draw out and manipulate in order to bring to a desired form" (late 14c.), specifically of the growth of branches, vines, etc. from mid-15c.; from train (n.). The meaning "to travel by railway" is recorded from 1856. Related: Trained; training.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with train


In addition to the idiom beginning with train

  • train of thought

also see:

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