American English

Definition of rail noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] a wooden or metal bar placed around something as a barrier or to provide support She leaned on the ship's rail and gazed out to sea. see also guard rail, handrail
  2. 2[countable] a bar attached to the wall for hanging things on a picture/curtain rail
  3. 3[countable, usually plural] each of the two metal bars that form the track that trains run on
  4. 4[uncountable] (often before another noun) railroads as a means of transport to travel by rail rail travel/services/fares a rail link/network
  5. Idioms
    get back on the rails (informal)
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    to become successful again after a period of failure, or to begin functioning normally again He has helped get the company back on the rails again.
      go off the rails (informal)
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    1. 1to start behaving in a strange or unacceptable manner, for example, drinking a lot of alcohol or taking drugs She went completely off the rails after her sister died.
    2. 2to lose control and stop functioning correctly The company has gone off the rails in recent years.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: rail