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

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 In the process of developing software, several problems might derail a project, sabotage the design and inflict damage on the bottom line. Thanh Pham, Forbes, 19 July 2022 And even as the economy improved in June, the threat of further mass quarantines may derail a nascent recovery. New York Times, 14 July 2022 At times last year and earlier this season, a rough inning early in a start could derail Steele’s outing and cut his day short. Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune, 13 July 2022 Just a bit of obsession with Obi-Wan Kenobi that will no doubt derail the advancements of the empire. David Betancourt, Washington Post, 23 June 2022 The issue, if it's not addressed soon, could derail public transportation in one of Michigan's largest counties and undercut one of the two main bus services in metro Detroit. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 23 June 2022 Ultimately, this film's few slow stretches can't derail the rest of its highlights, and the result is my favorite Judge production in years. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 22 June 2022 Whereas a lack of momentum can often derail many transformation initiatives, enrollment teams are able to sustain commitments needed to achieve transformation. Shideh Bina, Fortune, 21 July 2022 But in drug treatment in Los Angeles County, contingency management remains uncommon, despite strong evidence that such programs can help people stop using meth and other stimulants that can derail and end lives. Los Angeles Times, 4 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About derail

Dictionary Entries Near derail




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for derail

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Derail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for derail


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on derail

Nglish: Translation of derail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derail for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!