Main definitions of rail in English

: rail1rail2rail3

rail1

noun

  • 1A bar or series of bars fixed on upright supports or attached to a wall or ceiling, serving as part of a barrier or used to hang things on.

    ‘a curtain rail’
    • ‘She slowly nodded and took a step forward, holding onto the porch rail for support for she still felt quite weak.’
    • ‘What really surprised us was the expense of the rails to hang the clothes on: they came to £350 just to rent!’
    • ‘A similar situation was narrowly avoided whilst recently affixing a curtain rail to the wall in the lounge.’
    • ‘They stood on the beach and lined the south rail of the pier, holding binoculars and cameras, listening to radios, scanning the sky.’
    • ‘The doctor pulled Peter's chart from where it was hanging over the bed rail, and studied it carefully.’
    • ‘The stairs were steep and creaking and he held on to the rail bolted to the wall.’
    • ‘Next weekend if they have set well we'll hire a nailgun and attach the rails, build and hang the gates and staple the sheep netting.’
    • ‘Within days we had a safety rail on the bathroom wall, another banister, raised lavatory seats and other helpful things.’
    • ‘A pink hand towel hanging on a rail could be seen from the street.’
    • ‘From it, two diagonally projecting arms at the front connect to side rails and support the rear of the engine.’
    • ‘They then hang over the gallery rail and stare into the abyss.’
    • ‘The other hand simply rested on the bridge rail, not supporting her as she didn't lean against it.’
    • ‘Swaying slightly, she clutched the stair rail for support and slowly made her way down, one step at a time.’
    • ‘Zack stopped and thought, using the rail the on the wall for support.’
    • ‘You can attach the bottom rail to the post by either of the two outside illustrations.’
    • ‘A rail on the ceiling went around the platform where a curtain could be pulled to hide the bed from view.’
    • ‘Among the new interior convenience features are roof-mounted rails to support storage bins and a DVD entertainment system.’
    • ‘I'm keen to try on a frock - there's a pretty little washerwoman's number hanging on a rail in the costume department I've already got my eye on.’
    • ‘The Footlights costume ladies would welcome the loan of mobile clothes rails on which to hang the many costumes.’
    • ‘Crystal was at the side of the ship, hanging far over the rail and apparently singing to the fish still safe in the ocean.’
    1. 1.1the rails The inside boundary fence of a racecourse.
      • ‘Racing to the third bend James Fancy got into a challenging position along the rails and quickly set sail for home.’
      • ‘However in the semi-final it was plain for all to see that he is an inside runner for he moved right over to the rails on the way to the bend.’
      • ‘Shes A Whisper was last out of traps on the inside but enjoyed a dream run up the rails which left her clear at the turn.’
      • ‘He was almost last out of traps but hugging the rails enjoyed a dream run up the inside to lead at the turn.’
      • ‘Richard Hughes and Jewel in the Sand are rewarded for a patient ride up the rails to take the Albany Stakes.’
      • ‘Refuse To Bend, who won the 2,000 Guineas last year, was bunched in on the outside of the rails and finished in third place.’
      • ‘Kevin Darley pushed the two-year-old on along the rails to beat hot favourite Khelef by a length and three-quarters, with Nevisian Lad running on well for third.’
      • ‘The race began to develop in the final quarter-mile, with Tony Culhane getting a dream run up the rails a furlong out on the 40-1 shot and setting sail for home.’
      • ‘Falbrav took the lead along the rails soon after entering the straight, but defending champion High Chaparral responded well to nose just in front approaching the line.’
      • ‘Racing strongly along the rails to the opening turn he quickly shot into a commanding lead that saw him in total control rounding the third bend.’
      • ‘He brought him down the rails with a superb ride and at ludicrous odds.’
      • ‘Even with one furlong to run, the £232,000 prize was within his grasp, though Kieren Fallon was edging Oratorio off the rails in search of a clear route for his challenge.’
      • ‘Dunsdon got his mount back inside the rails and went on to win.’
      • ‘Rod Millman's juvenile failed by just a head and would surely have prevailed had she not drifted off the rails and allowed the winner to come up her inside.’
      • ‘The latter held a good position along the rails throughout and in the end it was the deciding factor.’
      • ‘As he pulled level with Pizarro, Spencer's mount hung right and appeared to squeeze him against the rails.’
      • ‘Ridden by Paul Eddery, Press settled at the rear, then hogged the rails and made good headway but found nothing extra in the last two furlongs.’
      • ‘Phillip did well to stay on him because I thought he was going to go through the rails.’
      • ‘Interestingly, he watched the race from just beside that winner's enclosure and only had to hop inside the rails - there's confidence for you.’
      • ‘But Jamie Spencer urged Oratorio along the rails and edged in front as the three horses drove for the line.’
  • 2A steel bar or continuous line of bars laid on the ground as one of a pair forming a railway track.

    ‘the goods train left the rails’
    • ‘The company says it will take up to a week to clear the track and repair damaged rails.’
    • ‘Indian Railways have a substantial length of long and continuous welded rails.’
    • ‘Steels in the 0.40 to 0.60% C range are also used for rails, railway wheels and rail axles.’
    • ‘Bromley said most derailments are caused by broken rails, overheated train axles or human error.’
    • ‘In recent years, most steel rails from abandoned lines have been sold to China, he said.’
    • ‘It should never be forgotten that a steel wheel on a steel rail has one-seventh of the friction of a rubber-tyred wheel on a bitumen surface.’
    • ‘Iarnrod says the upgrading of the track to continuous welded rail will improve the reliability, speed and comfort on the route.’
    • ‘He compelled some fettlers to remove rails from the rail track, because they were expecting a train with a number of police.’
    • ‘There are lots of recycled materials, such as steel railroad rails and car windshields used in the mezzanine's balustrade.’
    • ‘An express train travelling from London to Leeds derailed after a rail broke on the East Coast Main Line track.’
    • ‘There were reports of trains unable to move, because the rails were greased for miles by the bodies of crushed locusts.’
    • ‘The many-closed branch lines no longer have rails.’
    • ‘With 31 trains to keep on the rails, fuelling is a major part of the servicing requirements of the depot.’
    • ‘Electric trolleys, which received their power from an overhead wire and returned it through the rails, provided the system that finally made the horse obsolete.’
    • ‘At St. Croix, we leave the joint line for the rails of Canadian Pacific.’
    • ‘We strolled the railroad tracks together, laying pennies on the rails and waiting for the train to pass so we could use the flattened coins for guitar picks.’
    • ‘The ordeal began as the result of a tragic accident when a rail worker died after slipping and falling on to the live rail on the main line.’
    • ‘We managed to find a track without electric rails and decided it would be safest to follow that one.’
    • ‘The impact sheared one of the track rails in two.’
    • ‘A railway crash is a serious things and broken rails need to be fixed.’
    1. 2.1mass noun, often as modifier Railways as a means of transport.
      ‘rail fares’
      ‘travelling by rail’
      • ‘The floods of 1999 and 2000 wreaked havoc and seriously affected rail transport in this desperately poor country.’
      • ‘If you look at rail safety compared with road safety, it is much safer to travel on the rails.’
      • ‘These are men who travel the rails taking in all the sights and sounds the world has to offer.’
      • ‘Joan's father had worked on the railways, so they had enjoyed free rail travel.’
      • ‘A further 79 per cent of survey respondents believe the government must sanction plans for a high speed metro rail link to the airport.’
      • ‘There seems to be no end to the problems faced by the Bangalore metro rail project.’
      • ‘Short line rails are today being threatened due to the use of new, heavier 286,000 pound railcars that have become the industry standard.’
      • ‘The roads and rails that connect southern Canada with the Northwest Territories sputter into the town and then die.’
      • ‘They will also have access through all forms transport - rail or road or metro.’
      • ‘With the growth in rail travel and motor car ownership, there aren't as many people travelling by ferry anymore.’
      • ‘Travellers face disruption by road and rail this weekend as maintenance and upgrading take place.’
      • ‘They agreed to restrict rail traffic away from travel time for school age children.’
      • ‘Due to the high price of fuel, rail traffic has been up over the past year.’
      • ‘For those of you who ride the rails, feel free to take notes.’
      • ‘Most ports are well linked to local and intercity rail transportation.’
      • ‘The station is one of the city's principal transport interchanges, with rail services, numerous bus routes and York's busiest taxi ranks.’
      • ‘The golden age of rail travel in the Southwest lives again at a dusty town in eastern Arizona.’
      • ‘In addition, the two companies have reached an agreement on payment for cargo transportation by rail til 2003.’
      • ‘He and the receiver kept running along the dark expanse of the warehouse roof, making for the elevated tracks of the commuter rail.’
      • ‘An efficient metro rail system will not only push the bulk of traffic underground, but also ensure that people use their vehicles sparingly.’
  • 3The edge of a surfboard or sailboard.

    • ‘You come down through the backwash, you stick your rail in the backwash and do the best you can.’
    • ‘I clutched the side rails with white knuckles to keep from being tossed into the air.’
    • ‘Most surfers are injured from contact with their own surfboard's side rails and fins.’
    • ‘When the rails are kind of parallel and there's nothing to catch - I've never had that problem.’
    • ‘We all agreed it had the feel of snowboarding, like turning from rail to rail, you could almost feel the edge and that's when it was time to start the other turn.’
    • ‘I did not glass the rails and this might be another solution.’
    • ‘The smallest dude on the biggest rails, Evan frontside-bombed the big 18 and lived to tell about it.’
    • ‘A cutback is a 180 degree turn that's done on either of the two rails of the surfboard.’
    • ‘When turns need to be smoothed out and slowed down, get a large slow board, slightly wide and thick, with rounded or egg rails.’
    • ‘Mike Hynson came out with his lower rails that had hard edges from nose to tail.’
    • ‘They are more manoeuvrable, but you can still draw out the long turns because of the long straight rails.’
    • ‘OK, now as you approach the rail, do a frontside 180 ollie.’
    • ‘Rails with hard edges or straight cut rails provide a quicker turn, while softer or more rounded rails tend to be more forgiving.’
  • 4A horizontal piece in the frame of a panelled door or sash window.

    Compare with stile
    • ‘Put wood glue on the stiles, rails, dowels, and the dowel holes.’
    • ‘Place a combination square or try square over the rail so the blade is in line with the edge of the stile.’
    • ‘Cut stiles equally to the full desired height and cut rails to the full width of the door.’
    • ‘Dowel, glue and clamp the rails and stiles together and allow to dry.’
    • ‘If your cut exposes the hollow portion of the door, you must reinstall the solid-wood rail from the cutoff.’
    • ‘The trellis was originally backed with pleated silk panels hung between rods attached to the top and base rails of each door.’
    • ‘Old windows can be renovated and made draught-proof by fitting brushes to the bottom rail and meeting rails of the sashes.’
    • ‘The sashes are built from 4 frame components, the top and bottom pieces are called rails and the sides are called stiles.’
    • ‘We originally thought that the smalt might be limited to the stiles and rails, serving as a frame for the raised panels.’
    • ‘The bars were jointed to the stiles and rails using a small mortise with a corresponding tenon in the bar.’
    • ‘The sash is made up of rails, which are pieces of wood that surround glass panes.’
  • 5Electronics
    A conductor which is maintained at a fixed potential and to which other parts of a circuit are connected.

    ‘the anode must be connected to the positive supply rail’
    • ‘The BASH converter in turn converts this gate pulse into a power signal that feeds the power amplifier's main supply rails.’
    • ‘The beauty of this model is that all we need to do is connect the 3.3V rail to the VDD of one ram slot, which will be shared among all DIMM slots.’

verb

  • 1with object Provide or enclose (a space or place) with a rail or rails.

    ‘the altar is railed off from the nave’
    • ‘Outside is a railed and gravelled front garden, as well as on-street parking.’
    • ‘The back garden has been laid in patio and also features a timber shed, while the small front garden is railed and has been laid with bricks.’
    • ‘There are French doors out to a small railed balcony which overlooks the garden.’
    • ‘Outside, the front garden is railed and features a small lawn with side hedging.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and has off-street car parking for one car while the back garden is mainly in lawn.’
    • ‘The courtyard/village houses have railed front gardens and private back gardens and come in a variety of styles.’
    • ‘To the front of the property is a railed lawn garden with perimeter flowerbeds.’
    • ‘She was going to tell him to forget it knowing how her family would be up in arms, but before she could get the words out he tugged her in the living room and to the gold railed stairs.’
    • ‘The small front garden is railed and granite walls enclose a 50 foot long back garden in lawn with a number of mature shrubs, colourful flowering plants, trees and wall creepers.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and includes various flowering plants.’
    • ‘The four-bedroom detached house is set amid sheltered gardens and boasts railed paddocks, stables, a swimming pool and hard tennis court.’
    • ‘There is a railed bedded area to the front of the house, while to the rear, the 75 foot long garden is laid in lawn with mature flowerbeds and a brick-effect patio.’
    • ‘The back garden is partially railed and partially fenced and has a block constructed shed.’
    • ‘The gardens and paddock to the rear and side of the property are railed and fenced to allow maintenance of pony or other animals.’
    • ‘There is a small, railed lawn to the front and a west-facing garden and patio to the rear.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and has space for off-street parking.’
    • ‘Lucy stated that probably the toughest trip was the day they trekked to the Cabumi Falls, where they had to climb a stepped and railed path that was pretty testing.’
    • ‘All of the three-storey Georgian-style properties on offer have a rear garden with a lawn, patio and a shed as well as a small planted and railed area to the front of the property.’
    • ‘Going up towards the altar, on the north side standing room is railed off for the rest of the Council who are not lords, and on the south side for the ambassadors.’
    • ‘A special area in the count centre - directly behind the vote sorters and counters - will be railed off for the tally men and women.’
  • 2with object and adverbial of direction Convey (goods) by rail.

    ‘perishables were railed into Manhattan’
    • ‘During the following five or six weeks hundreds of tons of turf must have been railed out of Bundoran, most days there were three lorries drawing steady.’
    • ‘Now instead of calling at Adelaide, they rail goods across from Melbourne.’
    • ‘The ore will be railed 107 km to the Geraldton Port.’
    • ‘They will then move to Te Rapa before they are railed through the Kaimai Ranges to the Port of Tauranga.’
  • 3no object (in windsurfing) sail the board on its edge.

    ‘the more you pull down on the boom, the more you rail’

Phrases

  • go off the rails

    • informal Begin behaving in an uncontrolled or unacceptable way.

      ‘sport saved them from going off the rails as youngsters’
      • ‘You start looking back and trying to work out reasons why your child is going off the rails.’
      • ‘Given the amount of crime committed by young people, it is sometimes tempting to think that a whole generation has gone off the rails.’
      • ‘As his acting career began to take off, he began to go off the rails.’
      • ‘He had fully admitted his role in the offences and had seemingly gone off the rails during the period of offences.’
      • ‘They added he seemed to have gone off the rails and for a ‘bright lad,’ like him, it did not seem right.’
      • ‘He had come into the first team and played a few games at just 16 but like a few of the lads he totally lost the place and went off the rails.’
      • ‘He became depressed because of the situation, turned to binge drinking and his life went off the rails.’
      • ‘The important information is that while he may have gone off the rails in the past, he's clean and sober now.’
      • ‘I know I went off the rails seriously enough, that had my parents been famous, I would have been featured in the pages of National Enquirer.’
      • ‘We have gone right off the rails in this country.’
  • on the rails

    • 1Behaving or functioning in a normal or regulated way.

      ‘he is determined to get the club back on the rails’
      • ‘There was such a big change in Laura after she became ill that I just wanted to do something to get her life back on the rails.’
      • ‘But they do still run an outreach centre for drug and alcohol addicts, and have been successful in putting several lives back on the rails.’
      • ‘It puts us back on the rails and it's great for the team that they were able to turn the result around like that.’
      • ‘We need to get this company back on the rails before it outsmarts itself into bankruptcy.’
      • ‘I think I quickly rediscovered a desire to live but hadn't a clue as to how I could get back on the rails.’
      • ‘Most books that aim at putting your life back on the rails have a strong spiritual undercurrent.’
      • ‘This gives ailing firms time to get themselves back on the rails.’
      • ‘They will be hoping to get their league campaign back on the rails in their next match and it will be back to the training ground for some fine tuning in the interim.’
      • ‘One of Glasgow's most innovative theatres is back on the rails after a two year makeover.’
      • ‘But we said that sure it was a blip and we would soon start up a new run and get the show back on the rails.’
    • 2(of a racehorse or jockey) in a position on the racetrack nearest the inside fence.

      ‘Duffield got himself jammed in on the rails’
      • ‘But he surged to victory on the rails from a furlong out.’
      • ‘Dettori was out of luck on Godolphin's Inamorato in the following UAE Derby when his mount got trapped on the rails and was repeatedly denied a run until it was too late.’
      • ‘He soon had Sir Michael Stoute's charge on the rails and allowed him to make up the ground steadily, but he could not peg back Kandidate and went down by a length.’
      • ‘At Beverley two outings ago, Ouninpohja was trapped on the rails entering the final furlong but flashed home in third place.’
      • ‘In the early stages of this six bend affair Brykat Cherub showed the way to Alices Best but nearing the entrance to the backstretch Pearls Action dashed into the lead on the rails.’
      • ‘Hanagan's mount got a good run on the rails and he waited for the gaps to come and was rewarded for his patience with his first Goodwood winner.’
      • ‘His mount looked beaten coming into the final furlong as Indigo Cat took it up on the rails but dug deep to challenge again.’
      • ‘Hills settles the horse on the rails behind pacemaker Shiny but finds himself boxed in and unable to get a run.’
      • ‘Kinane managed to extricate his mount from a seemingly impossible position on the rails turning into the straight to swoop late to take the honours by a three-quarter of a length margin.’
      • ‘Given a great ride that day by Paul Mulrennan, the four-year-old squeezed through on the rails to get on top inside the final furlong.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French reille ‘iron rod’, from Latin regula ‘straight stick, rule’.

Pronunciation

rail

/reɪl/

Main definitions of rail in English

: rail1rail2rail3

rail2

verb

[NO OBJECT]rail against/at/about
  • Complain or protest strongly and persistently about.

    ‘he railed at human fickleness’
    • ‘Had those railing against the charges staged a dignified and lawful protest, the likelihood is they would continue to enjoy the support of the general populace.’
    • ‘Now, having failed to master hip-hop, the musician rails against it.’
    • ‘In fact, I railed about this a few months ago in a post complaining that bloggers seemed all too thrilled to be a cog in the parties’ spin machines.’
    • ‘He complained in Parliament that the MP had railed at him on the phone and had called him a ‘scoundrel’.’
    • ‘At one point, he rails against corporate values standing in the way of good journalism and says broadcasters should be more questioning of things.’
    • ‘Ishihara rails against everything from the reduction of the time hard-pressed Japanese kids have to spend in school to the country's non-nuclear peace constitution.’
    • ‘Some have described him as a maverick, a colourful figure who rails against the evil of over-centralised administration and unanswerable power.’
    • ‘Pierce refuses to discuss their departure, but rails at the suggestion that the newly-recruited line-up are just there to make up the numbers.’
    • ‘If you look at his campaign finance reports, you'll see that he has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the very companies that he rails against.’
    • ‘This pragmatism continues to inform Republicanism today, giving it the debt-laden, welfarist character Sullivan rails against.’
    • ‘Ivor can be caustic at times and rails at the dearth of good science in our schools.’
    • ‘Ironically, the point Williams was railing against was that all human behavior is selfishly motivated.’
    • ‘He rails against the ‘dictatorship of relativism’.’
    • ‘That is why he rails against the corporate bosses who essentially rob the kitty for their own greed and vanity.’
    • ‘He rails against the ‘totally stupid’ tactics of the big airlines, whose response to the current crisis has been to cut staff and ground planes and to increase fares to cover higher costs, such as extra security.’
    • ‘I could get worked up about this, but I'm not so much railing against networks ignoring their civic duty as I am railing against human nature.’
    • ‘The paper constantly railed against complacency and demanded firmer action against the old order.’
    • ‘In the letter, Traficant rails against the U.S. Department of Justice, which put him in prison until 2009 after successfully convicting him on bribery and corruption charges.’
    • ‘He rails against the bureaucratisation of livestock farming: lists, registers, rules and artificial standards, all of which waste time and money, and increase both human and animal suffering.’
    • ‘I challenge the members who rail against it to say that if their party were elected to Government, it would wipe out that fourth week of leave.’
    protest strongly at, make a protest against, fulminate against, inveigh against, rage against, thunder against, declaim against, remonstrate about, expostulate about, make a fuss about, speak out against, express disapproval of, criticize severely, denounce, censure, condemn
    View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English: from French railler, from Provençal ralhar ‘to jest’, based on an alteration of Latin rugire ‘to bellow’.

Pronunciation

rail

/reɪl/

Main definitions of rail in English

: rail1rail2rail3

rail3

noun

  • A secretive bird with drab grey and brown plumage, typically having a long bill and found in dense waterside vegetation.

    • ‘The kagu has long been classified with the gruiform birds, a grab bag of anatomically diverse families such as the familiar cranes and rails.’
    • ‘There were no rails or clappers to be found in the heat.’
    • ‘Apart from coots and related rails, only ostriches and weaverbirds can detect parasitic eggs left by their own species.’
    • ‘And the Airport Marsh harbored a multitude of ducks, coots, egrets, herons, and rails.’
    • ‘I have often regarded the rail as the premier bird of a freshwater marsh, so a marsh without one is to my mind severely lacking.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old Northern French raille, perhaps of imitative origin.

Pronunciation

rail

/reɪl/