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View synonyms for underground railroad

underground railroad

noun

  1. Also called underground railway. a railroad running through a continuous tunnel, as under city streets; subway.
  2. (often initial capital letters) U.S. History. (before the abolition of slavery) a system for helping African Americans fleeing slavery to escape into Canada or other places of safety.


underground railroad

noun

  1. often capitals (in the pre-Civil War US) the system established by abolitionists to aid escaping slaves


Underground Railroad

  1. A network of houses and other places that abolitionists used to help slaves escape to freedom in the northern states or in Canada before the Civil War . The escaped slaves traveled from one “station” of the railroad to the next under cover of night. Harriet Tubman was the most prominent “conductor” on the Underground Railroad.


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Word History and Origins

Origin of underground railroad1

First recorded in 1825–35

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Idioms and Phrases

A secret network for moving and housing fugitives, as in There's definitely an underground railroad helping women escape abusive husbands . This term, dating from the first half of the 1800s, alludes to the network that secretly transported runaway slaves through the northern states to Canada. It was revived more than a century later for similar escape routes.

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Example Sentences

In one second-grade homework assignment, a multiple-choice answer about Harriet Tubman identified her as “a conductor on the underground railroad,” as though she were merely operating a train.

From Time

Digital visitors can see the shawl given by Britain’s Queen Victoria to the famous underground railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, as well as a simple straw hat owned by the civil rights and bus boycott leader Rosa Parks.

I went to England to study politics at Oxford University and spent most of my time working with people who were trying to get soldiers in the underground railroad—deserters—into a safe place in Scandinavia.

From Time

At the ceremony and afterward I got to thinking about the Underground Railroad.

How did you gather information about the Underground Railroad, which was a clandestine, illegal activity?

If all the people who claimed to work on the Underground Railroad really had, the South would have been drained of slaves.

Mrs. Reed, the former slave and conductor on the Underground Railroad?

How about Belle Mills, the milliner who worked on the Underground Railroad?

Much later in our national history, Springfield became one of the most important stations of the "Underground Railroad."

There will be an underground railroad line along every principal route of travel.

"The underground railroad is in fine working order," is the comment of The Journal.

To some of his friends it seemed possible—just a step beyond the Underground Railroad and hiding fugitive slaves.

My body was born amidst slavery, but my conscience soon found the underground railroad.

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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

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