de·rail | \di-ˈrāl, dē-\

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 \-mənt \ 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

After retiring at 30 due to a series of injuries that derailed his NBA career, Yao enrolled in China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2011. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Former Rockets star Yao Ming fulfills promise, gets college degree," 13 July 2018 That’s nothing new nor should anyone be surprised that farmers keep pushing forward, ignoring challenges that would derail lesser people and lesser business operations. The Aegis, "Roller coaster ride [Editorial]," 13 July 2018 The passenger rail cars on an Amtrak train that derailed near Seattle last December while traveling more than twice the posted speed, killing three people, didn't meet current crash-protection standards, federal investigators said Tuesday. Alan Levin,, "Amtrak rail cars in fatal December crash in Washington didn't meet current standards," 10 July 2018 Philippe Coutinho has been the chief catalyst, though Neymar has played well, too, in his return from a foot injury that derailed the end of his first season at PSG. Avi Creditor,, "LIVE: Mexico Takes on Brazil Aiming to Snap World Cup Last-16 Curse," 2 July 2018 Most of all for Ross, who’s been a revelation more than a year removed from the shoulder injury and subsequent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery that derailed his first stint in San Diego. Jeff Sanders,, "Ross hit hard as Pirates beat Padres," 2 July 2018 Kirby’s minors have done things and faced hardships that could derail most adults. Joy Resmovits,, "What prom looks like in juvenile detention: contraband hairpins have to be returned at the end of the night," 21 June 2018 There are some major issues that could derail these plans. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "AT&T’s Ambitious Plan to Take On Facebook and Google for Ad Dollars," 15 June 2018 The only thing that would have derailed that would have been a ruling against AT&T’s plans to buy Time Warner. Peter Kafka, Recode, "Comcast formally announces its plan to make Rupert Murdoch even wealthier," 13 June 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

20 Oct 2018

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 \
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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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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