Definition of derail in English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause (a train or tram) to leave its tracks accidentally.

    ‘a train was derailed after it collided with a herd of cattle’
    • ‘Three trains were derailed due to the heavy rainfall of the past few days.’
    • ‘She said there were two big questions that needed to be answered with urgency: how the car came to be on the track at the time and how the train was derailed in such a catastrophic way.’
    • ‘A train was derailed after a wall collapsed on to the track, the gable end of a house crumbled on to a car, trees toppled over and garden fences were blown away.’
    • ‘He believes vandals could easily lift any of the sections of rail, or bolts, dumped by the railside and derail a train by laying them across the tracks.’
    • ‘Although the three carriages that made up the local train was derailed in the collision, its 30 passengers were only slightly hurt.’
    • ‘Several strong earthquakes shook north-western Japan within a span of minutes last night, toppling homes, causing blackouts, cutting water and gas services, and derailing a bullet train.’
    • ‘Commuters faced more misery on Thursday after a train was derailed just outside Bedford.’
    • ‘Fortunately the train was not derailed and no one was injured, although the train driver needed treatment for shock.’
    • ‘Rail chiefs launched an inquiry after two quarry trains were derailed on the same day.’
    • ‘The train was not derailed and remained on the track.’
    • ‘They are targeting areas where children regularly play ‘chicken’ across busy lines, throw stones at passing trains and block the line with debris, which can derail trains.’
    • ‘The typhoon brought downpours and strong winds, destroying houses and important cultural properties, derailing a train and disrupting transportation services across the country.’
    • ‘There may not have been a case yet where a train was derailed by objects deliberately left on the line by young pranksters.’
    • ‘After the impact the passenger train was derailed, but remained upright until it travelled over a set of points which deflected it into the path of the freight train travelling in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘If a train is derailed at high speed the chances of it colliding with a train coming from the opposite direction are significantly high by virtue of the minimal separation between each one.’
    • ‘This is why, for instance, people are inclined to overestimate the risks of travelling by rail, because of the very extensive reporting when a train is derailed and a number of passengers are killed.’
    • ‘The returning train was derailed by the drunken pachyderms, and by the time the line was cleared and we arrived back in the capital, I was feeling spectacularly rough.’
    • ‘All nine coaches were derailed, but continued upright for half a mile before colliding head-on with a coal train.’
    • ‘A strong earthquake shook northwest Japan yesterday, destroying homes, derailing a bullet train and cutting water and power supplies.’
    • ‘The company has imposed speed restrictions across some of its network because of fears that tracks could buckle in the heat and derail trains.’
    destroy, put an end to, bring to an end, be the end of, end, extinguish, dash, quell, quash, ruin, wreck, shatter, smash, crush, scotch
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    1. 1.1no object (of a train or tram) accidentally leave the tracks.
      ‘the trams had a tendency to derail on sharp corners’
      • ‘The train car derailed, and a crater was left in the track bed.’
      • ‘That actually increases the risk of the rail breaking and leading to a train derailing.’
      • ‘The train had derailed but remained upright, resulting in at least ten serious injuries.’
      • ‘And as many as 200 people have been evacuated in southern California after a freight train derailed today.’
      • ‘A witness said the outgoing tram derailed after the crash.’
      • ‘Thousands of litres of heavy industrial oil spilled into the lake after 43 train cars derailed on Wednesday morning.’
      • ‘No one was seriously injured when 11 cars and four locomotives derailed about 9: 40 a.m.’
      • ‘Heavy rain was last night blamed for causing a landslide that led to a passenger train derailing on one of Britain's busiest routes.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, her train derailed on the way to the airport.’
      • ‘The tram derailed and crashed into the wall of a major downtown department store.’
      • ‘Officials say at least three of the train's cars derailed.’
      • ‘At least now we have confirmed that two people have died when those train cars derailed.’
      • ‘The train then derailed into the path of an oncoming freight train.’
      • ‘My concern was for the people who were on board the train, it would have been unthinkable if the train had derailed.’
      • ‘The train derailed yesterday, injuring more than 100 passengers, six of them critically.’
      • ‘The rail cars derailed and crashed and crews were sent to battle the small blazes that started.’
      • ‘Rail passengers were warned last night to expect delays over the next four days after a freight train derailed near the Scottish border.’
      • ‘Suddenly, somehow, in a split-second, the train derailed.’
      • ‘So far, he's not aware of a train derailing or crashing as a result of such ‘pranks’.’
      • ‘On the 35-car train, 10 cars derailed, according to railroad officials.’
    2. 1.2with object Obstruct (a process) by diverting it from its intended course.
      ‘the plot is seen by some as an attempt to derail the negotiations’
      • ‘He makes an excellent case that it was created in ‘an obvious attempt to derail the peace process.’’
      • ‘And they're going to do whatever they can do to derail the democratic process.’
      • ‘Which leads to another question: Was the robbery intended to derail the peace process?’
      • ‘Both sides said they are committed to peace talks and analysts say the blast could impede but not derail the process.’
      • ‘When those actions came to light this February, councillors erupted in anger, almost derailing the whole process once again.’
      obstruct, impede, interfere with, hinder, hamper, block, interrupt, hold up, hold back, stand in the way of, frustrate, thwart, baulk, inhibit, hamstring, sabotage, encumber, restrain, slow, slow down, retard, delay, stonewall, forestall, arrest, check, stop, halt, stay, restrict, limit, curb, put a brake on, bridle, fetter, shackle
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Mid 19th century: from French dérailler, from dé- (expressing removal) + rail ‘rail’.