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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Marion County firefighters arrived after 1:20 a.m. and found nine cars derailed, according to a news release from the agency. oregonlive, "Train derails north of Salem," 29 Sep. 2019 The firm is trying to derail the investigation by arguing that the CFPB was set up in violation of the constitutional separation of powers. Los Angeles Times, "Trump administration asks Supreme Court to limit CFPB’s independence," 17 Sep. 2019 The book details all of the ways Weinstein tried to derail and delay the NYT's investigation. Brian Stelter, CNN, "'She Said:' New book recounts the reporting that revealed Harvey Weinstein's abuses," 9 Sep. 2019 Fire Chief Jay Kolakowski said the slow-moving cars apparently derailed sometime before 4:30 a.m., but said Pan Am Railways didn’t notify police or firefighters., "Freight train derails in Bristol, dumping tons of debris," 10 July 2019 Cinco Ranch has a chance to ride a victory into district play, though a 0-4 start did not necessarily derail the Cougars last year. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Cinco Ranch football hits the road for non-district finale against Cedar Park," 17 Sep. 2019 If recession fears are overblown and the trade war and global troubles don’t derail the record 10-year-old economic expansion, employers actually could ramp up hiring in the months ahead to play catch-up after trimming hours, Goldman says. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Workers are putting in fewer hours. Is that a sign a recession is coming?," 5 Sep. 2019 Liverpool have similarly been cautious not to derail their current success by not forcing things in the market this summer., "Manchester United Fans Must Have Patience With This Season's New Look Squad," 3 Sep. 2019 In her remarks Tuesday, Lam said that the violence would not derail talks, however. James Griffiths, CNN, "China's top diplomat says Hong Kong protests are city's worst crisis since 1997," 28 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about derail

Time Traveler for derail

Time Traveler

The first known use of derail was in 1850

See more words from the same year

Statistics for derail

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Derail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for derail


How to pronounce derail (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on derail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for derail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with derail

Spanish Central: Translation of derail

Nglish: Translation of derail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derail for Arabic Speakers

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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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