rail

1 of 4

noun (1)

1
a
: a bar extending from one post or support to another and serving as a guard or barrier
b
: a structural member or support
2
b
: a light structure serving as a guard at the outer edge of a ship's deck
c
: a fence bounding a racetrack
3
a
: a bar of rolled steel forming a track for wheeled vehicles
b
: track
c

rail

2 of 4

verb (1)

railed; railing; rails

transitive verb

: to provide with a railing : fence

rail

3 of 4

noun (2)

plural rail or rails
: any of numerous wading birds (family Rallidae, the rail family) that are of small or medium size and have short rounded wings, a short tail, and usually very long toes which enable them to run on the soft mud of marshes

Illustration of rail

Illustration of rail

rail

4 of 4

verb (2)

railed; railing; rails

intransitive verb

: to revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language
railer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for rail

scold, upbraid, berate, rail, revile, vituperate mean to reproach angrily and abusively.

scold implies rebuking in irritation or ill temper justly or unjustly.

angrily scolding the children

upbraid implies censuring on definite and usually justifiable grounds.

upbraided her assistants for poor research

berate suggests prolonged and often abusive scolding.

berated continually by an overbearing boss

rail (at or against) stresses an unrestrained berating.

railed loudly at their insolence

revile implies a scurrilous, abusive attack prompted by anger or hatred.

an alleged killer reviled in the press

vituperate suggests a violent reviling.

was vituperated for betraying his friends

Examples of rail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The amount of cargo moved by rail is insignificant compared to San Diego’s overall production, Quirk said. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Feb. 2024 The country’s primary rail provider is Combios de Portugal and the Douro Line (which runs from Porto to Pochino) is said to be the most picturesque, offering front-row views of the river and valley. Nicole Kliest, Vogue, 10 Feb. 2024 Editorial: To save its coastal rail line, California will need to move it away from the ocean. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 On Tuesday, three days ahead of Lunar New Year’s Eve, when families typically gather for a customary reunion meal, travelers made 2.2 million air trips and 12.9 million journeys by rail, according to official data. Simone McCarthy, CNN, 9 Feb. 2024 The rail industry reached the brink of a strike in the fall of 2022 before Congress and President Joe Biden intervened to force rail workers to accept a contract. Josh Funk, Quartz, 8 Feb. 2024 Utah separately applied for federal funds for a rail line between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, which also wasn’t funded. Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman, 6 Feb. 2024 The old rail line in Bentonville was not taken up until early 1918. Randy McCrory Vintage Bentonville, arkansasonline.com, 1 Feb. 2024 The West Bottoms would be a great place due to the proximity of past and present rail yards, original location of Union Station and one of the places where modern KC can trace its roots. Tim Engle, Kansas City Star, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
While the medical establishment railed against Mesmer’s claims, his supporters set up the secret Society of Universal Harmony to promote the practice. Lynn Hunt, The New York Review of Books, 15 Feb. 2024 Faison took the opportunity to rail on his Clueless character, Murray. Lauren Huff, EW.com, 14 Feb. 2024 During his time in office, Trump repeatedly railed against spending disparities within NATO and accused some countries of not meeting their obligations. Simone McCarthy, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 Israel has long railed against UNRWA, accusing it of tolerating or even collaborating with Hamas and perpetuating the 76-year-old Palestinian refugee crisis. Julia Frankel The Associated Press, arkansasonline.com, 10 Feb. 2024 The vote also showed that Mr. Khan’s strategy of preaching reform and railing against the military has resonated deeply with Pakistanis — particularly young people — who are disillusioned with the political system. Christina Goldbaum, New York Times, 10 Feb. 2024 As the President railed against the media and levels of trust in the industry plummeted—polls show that about two-thirds of the country now has little to no trust in the media—these numbers were signs of hope. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 10 Feb. 2024 At a recent family party, a distant cousin who came to this country without papers as a young man railed about Venezuelans supposedly getting free food and lodging in New York with all the xenophobic bloviating of a Fox News host. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 The dry pantry has been moved and is encased next to the Kings Bottle stainless steel, three-door outdoor refrigerator, replacing the former white spindle railing on the front porch of the blue house on Parkway Avenue. Catherine Muccigrosso, Charlotte Observer, 26 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English raile, from Anglo-French raille, reille bar, rule, from Latin regula straightedge, rule — more at rule

Noun (2)

Middle English raile, from Middle French raalle

Verb (2)

Middle English, from Middle French railler to mock, probably from Old French reillier to growl, mutter, from Vulgar Latin *ragulare to bray, from Late Latin ragere to neigh

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rail was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near rail

Cite this Entry

“Rail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rail. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

rail

1 of 4 noun
1
a
: a bar extending from one support to another and serving as a guard or barrier
2
a
: a bar of steel forming a track for wheeled vehicles
b

rail

2 of 4 verb
: to provide with a railing

rail

3 of 4 noun
plural rails or rail
: any of various small wading birds related to the cranes

rail

4 of 4 verb
: to scold or complain in harsh or bitter language
railer noun
Etymology

Noun

Middle English raile "bar, rail," from early French raille, reille "bar, ruler," from Latin regula "straightedge, ruler," from regere "to lead straight, govern, rule" — related to regent, regulate, rule

Noun

Middle English raile "rail (the bird)," from early French raalie (same meaning)

Verb

Middle English railen "to scold, be abusive to," from early French railler "to mock," probably derived from Latin ragere "to neigh"

More from Merriam-Webster on rail

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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