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’
    • ‘From it, two diagonally projecting arms at the front connect to side rails and support the rear of the engine.’
    • ‘A pink hand towel hanging on a rail could be seen from the street.’
    • ‘The Footlights costume ladies would welcome the loan of mobile clothes rails on which to hang the many costumes.’
    • ‘A similar situation was narrowly avoided whilst recently affixing a curtain rail to the wall in the lounge.’
    • ‘Zack stopped and thought, using the rail the on the wall for support.’
    • ‘The stairs were steep and creaking and he held on to the rail bolted to the wall.’
    • ‘You can attach the bottom rail to the post by either of the two outside illustrations.’
    • ‘They stood on the beach and lined the south rail of the pier, holding binoculars and cameras, listening to radios, scanning the sky.’
    • ‘Swaying slightly, she clutched the stair rail for support and slowly made her way down, one step at a time.’
    • ‘She slowly nodded and took a step forward, holding onto the porch rail for support for she still felt quite weak.’
    • ‘Among the new interior convenience features are roof-mounted rails to support storage bins and a DVD entertainment system.’
    • ‘Within days we had a safety rail on the bathroom wall, another banister, raised lavatory seats and other helpful things.’
    • ‘The other hand simply rested on the bridge rail, not supporting her as she didn't lean against it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Crystal was at the side of the ship, hanging far over the rail and apparently singing to the fish still safe in the ocean.’
    • ‘A rail on the ceiling went around the platform where a curtain could be pulled to hide the bed from view.’
    • ‘They then hang over the gallery rail and stare into the abyss.’
    • ‘The doctor pulled Peter's chart from where it was hanging over the bed rail, and studied it carefully.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What really surprised us was the expense of the rails to hang the clothes on: they came to £350 just to rent!’
    1. 1.1the rails The inside boundary fence of a racecourse.
      • ‘Richard Hughes and Jewel in the Sand are rewarded for a patient ride up the rails to take the Albany Stakes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But Jamie Spencer urged Oratorio along the rails and edged in front as the three horses drove for the line.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dunsdon got his mount back inside the rails and went on to win.’
      • ‘He was almost last out of traps but hugging the rails enjoyed a dream run up the inside to lead at the turn.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Racing to the third bend James Fancy got into a challenging position along the rails and quickly set sail for home.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Phillip did well to stay on him because I thought he was going to go through the rails.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As he pulled level with Pizarro, Spencer's mount hung right and appeared to squeeze him against the rails.’
      • ‘The latter held a good position along the rails throughout and in the end it was the deciding factor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He brought him down the rails with a superb ride and at ludicrous odds.’
  • 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’
    • ‘A railway crash is a serious things and broken rails need to be fixed.’
    • ‘There are lots of recycled materials, such as steel railroad rails and car windshields used in the mezzanine's balustrade.’
    • ‘The impact sheared one of the track rails in two.’
    • ‘In recent years, most steel rails from abandoned lines have been sold to China, he said.’
    • ‘With 31 trains to keep on the rails, fuelling is a major part of the servicing requirements of the depot.’
    • ‘Iarnrod says the upgrading of the track to continuous welded rail will improve the reliability, speed and comfort on the route.’
    • ‘At St. Croix, we leave the joint line for the rails of Canadian Pacific.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He compelled some fettlers to remove rails from the rail track, because they were expecting a train with a number of police.’
    • ‘There were reports of trains unable to move, because the rails were greased for miles by the bodies of crushed locusts.’
    • ‘Bromley said most derailments are caused by broken rails, overheated train axles or human error.’
    • ‘Steels in the 0.40 to 0.60% C range are also used for rails, railway wheels and rail axles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We managed to find a track without electric rails and decided it would be safest to follow that one.’
    • ‘The company says it will take up to a week to clear the track and repair damaged rails.’
    • ‘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 many-closed branch lines no longer have rails.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Indian Railways have a substantial length of long and continuous welded rails.’
    • ‘An express train travelling from London to Leeds derailed after a rail broke on the East Coast Main Line track.’
    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In addition, the two companies have reached an agreement on payment for cargo transportation by rail til 2003.’
      • ‘There seems to be no end to the problems faced by the Bangalore metro rail project.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They will also have access through all forms transport - rail or road or metro.’
      • ‘Due to the high price of fuel, rail traffic has been up over the past year.’
      • ‘These are men who travel the rails taking in all the sights and sounds the world has to offer.’
      • ‘Travellers face disruption by road and rail this weekend as maintenance and upgrading take place.’
      • ‘For those of you who ride the rails, feel free to take notes.’
      • ‘Short line rails are today being threatened due to the use of new, heavier 286,000 pound railcars that have become the industry standard.’
      • ‘Most ports are well linked to local and intercity rail transportation.’
      • ‘If you look at rail safety compared with road safety, it is much safer to travel on the rails.’
      • ‘The roads and rails that connect southern Canada with the Northwest Territories sputter into the town and then die.’
      • ‘They agreed to restrict rail traffic away from travel time for school age children.’
      • ‘With the growth in rail travel and motor car ownership, there aren't as many people travelling by ferry anymore.’
      • ‘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.

    • ‘Mike Hynson came out with his lower rails that had hard edges from nose to tail.’
    • ‘I clutched the side rails with white knuckles to keep from being tossed into the air.’
    • ‘Rails with hard edges or straight cut rails provide a quicker turn, while softer or more rounded rails tend to be more forgiving.’
    • ‘OK, now as you approach the rail, do a frontside 180 ollie.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When the rails are kind of parallel and there's nothing to catch - I've never had that problem.’
    • ‘When turns need to be smoothed out and slowed down, get a large slow board, slightly wide and thick, with rounded or egg rails.’
    • ‘A cutback is a 180 degree turn that's done on either of the two rails of the surfboard.’
    • ‘They are more manoeuvrable, but you can still draw out the long turns because of the long straight rails.’
    • ‘You come down through the backwash, you stick your rail in the backwash and do the best you can.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most surfers are injured from contact with their own surfboard's side rails and fins.’
  • 4A horizontal piece in the frame of a panelled door or sash window.

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

verb

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

    ‘the altar is railed off from the nave’
    • ‘The gardens and paddock to the rear and side of the property are railed and fenced to allow maintenance of pony or other animals.’
    • ‘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 back garden is partially railed and partially fenced and has a block constructed shed.’
    • ‘There are French doors out to a small railed balcony which overlooks the garden.’
    • ‘To the front of the property is a railed lawn garden with perimeter flowerbeds.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and has space for off-street parking.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and includes various flowering plants.’
    • ‘Outside is a railed and gravelled front garden, as well as on-street parking.’
    • ‘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 courtyard/village houses have railed front gardens and private back gardens and come in a variety of styles.’
    • ‘A special area in the count centre - directly behind the vote sorters and counters - will be railed off for the tally men and women.’
    • ‘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 four-bedroom detached house is set amid sheltered gardens and boasts railed paddocks, stables, a swimming pool and hard tennis court.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The front garden is railed and has off-street car parking for one car while the back garden is mainly in lawn.’
    • ‘There is a small, railed lawn to the front and a west-facing garden and patio to the rear.’
    • ‘Outside, the front garden is railed and features a small lawn with side hedging.’
  • 2with object and adverbial of direction Convey (goods) by rail.

    ‘perishables were railed into Manhattan’
    • ‘The ore will be railed 107 km to the Geraldton Port.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They will then move to Te Rapa before they are railed through the Kaimai Ranges to the Port of Tauranga.’
    • ‘Now instead of calling at Adelaide, they rail goods across from Melbourne.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘They added he seemed to have gone off the rails and for a ‘bright lad,’ like him, it did not seem right.’
      • ‘As his acting career began to take off, he began to go off the rails.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have gone right off the rails in this country.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Given the amount of crime committed by young people, it is sometimes tempting to think that a whole generation has gone off the rails.’
      • ‘He had fully admitted his role in the offences and had seemingly gone off the rails during the period of offences.’
      • ‘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.’
  • on the rails

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

      ‘he is determined to get the club 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.’
      • ‘One of Glasgow's most innovative theatres is back on the rails after a two year makeover.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think I quickly rediscovered a desire to live but hadn't a clue as to how I could get back on the rails.’
      • ‘We need to get this company back on the rails before it outsmarts itself into bankruptcy.’
      • ‘Most books that aim at putting your life back on the rails have a strong spiritual undercurrent.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    • 2(of a racehorse or jockey) in a position on the racetrack nearest the inside fence.

      ‘Duffield got himself jammed in on the rails’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hills settles the horse on the rails behind pacemaker Shiny but finds himself boxed in and unable to get a run.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But he surged to victory on the rails from a furlong out.’
      • ‘His mount looked beaten coming into the final furlong as Indigo Cat took it up on the rails but dug deep to challenge again.’
      • ‘At Beverley two outings ago, Ouninpohja was trapped on the rails entering the final furlong but flashed home in third place.’

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’
    • ‘He rails against the ‘dictatorship of relativism’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That is why he rails against the corporate bosses who essentially rob the kitty for their own greed and vanity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The paper constantly railed against complacency and demanded firmer action against the old order.’
    • ‘This pragmatism continues to inform Republicanism today, giving it the debt-laden, welfarist character Sullivan rails against.’
    • ‘Now, having failed to master hip-hop, the musician rails against it.’
    • ‘Ivor can be caustic at times and rails at the dearth of good science in our schools.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some have described him as a maverick, a colourful figure who rails against the evil of over-centralised administration and unanswerable power.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ironically, the point Williams was railing against was that all human behavior is selfishly motivated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.

    • ‘There were no rails or clappers to be found in the heat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Apart from coots and related rails, only ostriches and weaverbirds can detect parasitic eggs left by their own species.’
    • ‘The kagu has long been classified with the gruiform birds, a grab bag of anatomically diverse families such as the familiar cranes and rails.’
    • ‘And the Airport Marsh harbored a multitude of ducks, coots, egrets, herons, and rails.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

rail

/reɪl/