noun \ˈrāl\

Definition of RAIL

a :  a bar extending from one post or support to another and serving as a guard or barrier
b :  a structural member or support
a :  railing 1
b :  a light structure serving as a guard at the outer edge of a ship's deck
c :  a fence bounding a racetrack
a :  a bar of rolled steel forming a track for wheeled vehicles
b :  track
c :  railroad

Origin of RAIL

Middle English raile, from Anglo-French raille, reille bar, rule, from Latin regula straightedge, rule — more at rule
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Railroad Terms

cowcatcher, cupola, gauge, vestibule, yard



Definition of RAIL

transitive verb
:  to provide with a railing :  fence

First Known Use of RAIL

14th century


plural rail or rails

Definition of RAIL

:  any of numerous wading birds (family Rallidae, the rail family) that are of small or medium size and have short rounded wings, a short tail, and usually very long toes which enable them to run on the soft mud of marshes

Illustration of RAIL

Origin of RAIL

Middle English raile, from Middle French raalle
First Known Use: 15th century



Definition of RAIL

intransitive verb
:  to revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language
rail·er noun

Origin of RAIL

Middle English, from Middle French railler to mock, probably from Old French reillier to growl, mutter, from Vulgar Latin *ragulare to bray, from Late Latin ragere to neigh
First Known Use: 15th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Virginia rail (Rallus limicola)—John H. Gerard—The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

Any of 127 species (family Rallidae) of slender marsh birds found almost worldwide. Rails have short rounded wings, a short tail, large feet, and long toes. Their loud call, especially at night, reveals their presence in dense vegetation. They are mostly dull grays and browns, often with barred patterns. Species vary from 4 to 18 in. (11 to 45 cm) long. Short-billed species are often called crakes. The king (Rallus elegans), clapper (R. longirostris), and Virginia (R. limicola) rails and the sora, or Carolina rail (Porzana carolina), have been hunted in the U.S.; several of the rails are now endangered, and some species have been exterminated.


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