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

However, his decisive role in derailing ObamaCare repeal helped put Republicans on the defensive in the midterms. WSJ, "John McCain and the GOP Loss of the House," 13 Nov. 2018 The rebuff, issued without comment Monday, is a blow to business groups, which had called for high court review in the hope of derailing other suits over climate change, opioid addiction and gun violence. Greg Stohr, The Seattle Times, "Supreme Court rejects lead-paint makers’ appeals in $400 million case," 15 Oct. 2018 Those efforts obviously have been successful, considering the number of frontline players who have gone down without derailing the team’s contending status. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Brewers' depth has been huge in overcoming series of injuries this season," 6 July 2018 The special counsel is looking into whether Trump's firing of Comey in May 2017 was an effort by the president to obstruct justice by derailing the FBI's probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Watchdog expected to rebuke ex-FBI director James Comey over Clinton email case," 14 June 2018 Sensitive Issue The measure is deemed necessary to stop a crisis over the sensitive issue of avoiding border checks at the frontier with Ireland from derailing the entire Brexit negotiations, which could force Britain out of the EU with no deal. Tim Ross,, "U.K.'s Boris Johnson Seeks to Woo Latin America for Brexit Trade," 20 May 2018 This isn't a struggle between two sides both interested in ending gun violence, but rather one side attempting to save lives and another side attempting to protect the National Rifle Association by derailing the conversation. Lincoln Anthony Blades, Teen Vogue, "California's Gun Laws Are Progress, Not Perfection," 15 May 2018 Previous Texas booms have not ended well, but there are few signs of the excesses that derailed past expansions. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "Texas Is Booming; History Calls at Oxford," 2 Nov. 2018 Keep in mind that Kavanaugh's original hearing was derailed multiple times by protesters and Democratic senators. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Kavanaugh confirmation: The latest developments on charges by Supreme Court nominee's accuser," 28 Sep. 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

1 Dec 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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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

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to enclose within walls

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