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

In the other Trump drug policy derailed this week, a federal judge on Monday blocked a rule that would have required drug makers to include the list prices of their medicines in television ads. Yasmeen Abutaleb,, "White House abandons plan to eliminate hidden rebates in order to lower drug prices," 11 July 2019 Poor ice can be dangerous: the career of the Detroit Red Wings' Anthony Mantha was derailed when his skate caught in a rut during their prospect camp in 2014, leaving him vulnerable for a hit that broke his tibia. Julia Stumbaugh, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes arena technician's cool job: maintaining ice in the desert," 10 July 2019 But that’s only if the project isn’t derailed first. Matt O'brien,, "Amazon and Microsoft wage war over the Pentagon’s ‘war cloud’," 10 July 2019 But that’s only if the project isn’t derailed first. Matt O'brien, The Denver Post, "Amazon, Microsoft wage war over the Pentagon’s “war cloud”," 9 July 2019 The New Jersey bill had neared passage several times since it was introduced seven years ago, but derailed in 2014 when Chris Christie, the governor at the time, threatened a veto. Paula Span, New York Times, "Aid in Dying Soon Will be Available to More Americans. Few Will Choose It.," 8 July 2019 Martin acknowledged that derailing pending investigations or negotiations could be unfair to defendants — particularly those in custody — who have been dealing with Milan’s office. Megan Crepeau,, "Judge decides Kim Foxx’s office can handle cases involving alleged torture by Jon Burge, detectives," 8 July 2019 The first inning was Bayside’s only real serious threat as that nervousness that McDermott talked about came close to derailing his night. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "League City National All-Stars at doorstep to District 14 title; NASA All-Stars raise win streak to four," 29 June 2019 Chuck Todd predictably emerged as one of the villains of the first debate, derailing a decent policy discussion with a seemingly endless barrage of right-wing talking points. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The debate moderators are addicted to right-wing talking points.," 28 June 2019

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

14 Jul 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

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