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

Prime scoring opportunities were derailed by misplaced passes or ever-so-slight timing issues. Author: Jay Cohen, Anchorage Daily News, "Bruins force Stanley Cup Game 7 with 5-1 win over Blues," 10 June 2019 Prime scoring opportunities were derailed by misplaced passes or ever-so-slight timing issues. Jay Cohen,, "Bruins force Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final with 5-1 win over Blues," 9 June 2019 Biden's first campaign for president back in 1988 was derailed after he was accused of plagiarizing parts of a speech from a British politician in the Democratic debate. NBC News, "Biden camp fixes climate plan after reports it copied other writings," 4 June 2019 President Trump and House Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi held separate press conferences on May 22, 2019, after a meeting at the White House about infrastructure funding was derailed. James Freeman, WSJ, "‘We’re Talking About a Couple Billion Dollars’," 22 May 2019 The elder Bush was cruising to reelection until he was derailed by a recession. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "What the 2018 results tell us about 2020," 14 Nov. 2018 Advertising Katumbi was convicted in absentia in 2016 for real estate fraud and sentenced to 36 months in prison, a move his supporters said was aimed at derailing his presidential ambitions. Saleh Mwanamilongo, The Seattle Times, "Congo political exiles return as new leader brings reforms," 18 May 2019 But otherwise, no serious disagreements or issues derailed them. Mejs Hasan, WIRED, "How Scientists Tracked Antarctica's Stunning Ice Loss," 13 June 2018 Alas, a back injury in the opener derailed his promising freshman season and robbed him of all but the final two games of the Tigers' 2017-18 campaign. Christopher Cason, GQ, "The Real-Life Diet of Michael Porter Jr., Future NBA Lottery Pick and Raw Vegan," 23 May 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

16 Jun 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

What made you want to look up derail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

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