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 derail (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 For particular active outings—whether that's a trip to a local park or a day at the museum—a good pair of shoes is crucial so that foot pain doesn't derail your plans. Rebecca Deczynski,, "The 10 Best Pairs of Walking Sandals for All-Day Comfort, According to Reviews," 30 Apr. 2021 Those charges won’t necessarily derail Rolfe’s chances before the civil service board. al, "Former Atlanta police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks wants job back," 23 Apr. 2021 Those charges won’t necessarily derail Rolfe’s chances before the civil service board. Christian Boone, ajc, "Ex-APD officer who shot Rayshard Brooks seeks reinstatement," 22 Apr. 2021 Wyss’ abrupt exit delays but doesn’t necessarily derail the $680 million bid, the source said. Robert Channick,, "Swiss billionaire drops out of bid for Tribune Publishing but Baltimore hotel exec still committed: source," 17 Apr. 2021 Biden administration officials maintained that the Johnson & Johnson pause won't derail the administration's vaccination goals. NBC News, "Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause is bad news at a crucial time for Biden's recovery efforts," 14 Apr. 2021 An ugly mailer won’t derail what may be an emerging Weber political dynasty. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Law enforcement PAC mimicked Trump strategy in attacking Weber," 11 Apr. 2021 There are a lot of factors that could derail those favorable California trend lines. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, "Newsom stakes his political future on beating the pandemic by June," 6 Apr. 2021 Zach struggles with attention deficit disorder and needs to learn in person to avoid distractions that otherwise derail his studies. Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, "14 Dallas County campuses temporarily halted in-person learning this school year due to COVID-19," 8 Mar. 2021

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Derail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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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