Definition of rail noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//reɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//reɪl//
    Railway tracks and stations
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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 fixed to the wall for hanging things on a picture/curtain/towel rail
  3. 3  [countable, usually plural] each of the two metal bars that form the track that trains run on See related entries: Railway tracks and stations
  4. 4  [uncountable] (often before another noun) railways/railroads as a means of transport to travel by rail rail travel/services/fares a rail link/network
  5. Word Originnoun Middle English: from Old French reille ‘iron rod’, from Latin regula ‘straight stick, rule’.Extra examples He uses a combination of commuter rail and subway to get to work. Lace curtains hung from the brass rails over the bed. Many business people now opt for high-speed rail rather than flying. She climbed onto the top fence rail. She held tightly on to the rail. She was worried her son was going to go completely off the rails. The gun is mounted on rails. The train came off the rails. The train thundered along the rails. Trams run along rails. We went from London to Budapest by rail. Weeds grew between the rails. efforts to modernize the rail network heated towel rails the Channel Tunnel rail link A child was seen crossing the rails. After the accident a guard rail was placed all the way along the cliff path. She came slowly down the stairs, holding the banister rail. There was thick dust on the picture rail. They stood leaning on the ship’s rail and watched the sunset. a towel railIdioms (informal) 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 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 badly off the rails in recent years.
    (of a train) to leave the rails suddenly
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: rail