de·​rail | \ di-ˈrāl How to pronounce derail (audio) , dē-\
derailed; derailing; derails

Definition of derail

transitive verb

1 : to cause to run off the rails
2a : to obstruct the progress of : frustrate security problems derailed the tour
b : to upset the stability or composure of divorce … can seriously derail an employee— Joanne Gordon

intransitive verb

: to leave the rails

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Other Words from derail

derailment \ di-​ˈrāl-​mənt How to pronounce derailment (audio) , dē-​ \ noun

Examples of derail in a Sentence

The train derailed in heavy snow. The train was derailed by heavy snow.

Recent Examples on the Web

Jennifer Lambert, a 19-year-old from Columbus, was one of seven riders injured in July 2017 when a car on the Fire Ball ride at Ohio’s State Fair derailed and crashed, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Sarah Mearhoff, Teen Vogue, "A Teen Died a Year After Sustaining Traumatic Brain Injuries in an Ohio State Fair Ride Accident," 12 Sep. 2018 Deontae Cooper’s career on the field at Washington was derailed by three separate ACL injuries. Evan Webeck, The Seattle Times, "Former Huskies RB Deontae Cooper is back on the football field — as Highline’s new head coach," 13 Apr. 2019 But those plans were derailed when an Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., in a March incident that some safety experts have said was avoidable. Greg Bensinger, WSJ, "Uber to Resume Self-Driving Car Tests in Pittsburgh After Hiatus," 20 Dec. 2018 But that was before back surgery derailed his lone season with the Tigers, costing him all but a few games. Tim Bontemps,, "Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. are the great NBA draft unknowns," 21 June 2018 Brown was expected to serve as the costar on an ACC championship contender and seen as a potential lottery pick, but a foot injury suffered in January derailed his sophomore season. Chris Johnson,, "2018 NBA Draft: Bruce Brown Scouting Report and Highlights," 18 June 2018 Six people have been hospitalized after a roller coaster derailed on the Boardwalk in Daytona Beach, Florida Thursday night, according to the local fire department. Eli Meixler, Time, "Two Riders Thrown More Than 30 Feet to the Ground as Roller Coaster Derails in Daytona Beach, Florida," 15 June 2018 Two people fell 34 feet after a roller coaster derailed in Florida. Alexia Fernandez,, "Roller Coaster Derails Sending 2 People Plunging 34 Feet to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk Below," 14 June 2018 The team failed with Rashad Vaughn and Mirza Teletovic, who wasn’t the answer even before pulmonary emboli derailed his career. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: The 2017-'18 season for the Bucks was a big disappointment," 29 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'derail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of derail

1850, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for derail

French dérailler to throw off the track, from dé- de- + rail, from English

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Statistics for derail

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for derail

The first known use of derail was in 1850

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More Definitions for derail



English Language Learners Definition of derail

of a train : to leave its tracks
: to cause (a train) to leave its tracks


de·​rail | \ di-ˈrāl How to pronounce derail (audio) \
derailed; derailing

Kids Definition of derail

1 : to leave or cause to leave the rails The train derailed.
2 : to make progress or success difficult for Injuries derailed his plan for a championship.

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More from Merriam-Webster on derail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with derail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for derail

Spanish Central: Translation of derail

Nglish: Translation of derail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derail for Arabic Speakers

Comments on derail

What made you want to look up derail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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