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
While other major airports, including San Francisco International, accommodate public transit rail systems, Metro is about two miles short of the Los Angeles airport. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2024 Every station on the California high-speed rail system has a local plan developed on how passengers will gain access to and from it. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 29 Mar. 2024 The $130 million rail service, with four stations, opened in 2010 to serve the mile-long concourse. Miami Herald Archives, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024 Meanwhile, a second high-speed rail project is underway in Thailand, which aims to connect the Laos-China Railway with Bangkok – but is now facing further delays and mounting construction costs. Heather Chen, CNN, 26 Mar. 2024 Sacramento police officers were called about 3:15 p.m. Thursday to the University and 65th Street Sacramento Regional Transit light rail station, behind the Wexler Apartments on Folsom Boulevard, for a reported shooting. Ishani Desai, Sacramento Bee, 25 Mar. 2024 At Tsinghua, classes shifted online and students were offered free bus and rail tickets home. Christina Knight, The Atlantic, 23 Mar. 2024 If Lincoln had seen Booth coming, Booth would arouse the natural instincts of the rail splitter. Chris Klimek, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Mar. 2024 But things go off the rails when Yoli (One Day at a Time’s Isabella Gomez) brings home Marcos (Nico Greetham), a white boy, born and raised in Mexico. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 18 Mar. 2024
Verb
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan railed against the secular elite who had led the country to near economic collapse. Leif Wenar, WIRED, 2 Apr. 2024 The following day, Trump railed against the gag order on his social media platform and criticized Merchan's daughter for a social media post that a court official said was not posted by her. Katherine Faulders, ABC News, 29 Mar. 2024 Islamic State propaganda has railed against Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015, sending bomber aircraft and helicopters to attack rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Souad Mekhennet, Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2024 Others railed against Dolan's vote to increase the state gas tax and LaRose's past support of LGBTQ groups. USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2024 Developers and gamers are pushing back, affirming that the kind of diversity these people rail against is here to stay. Ash Parrish, The Verge, 18 Mar. 2024 Critics from the center and the right railed that, even as the country burned, Mélenchon hadn’t called for calm. Elisabeth Zerofsky, New York Times, 6 Mar. 2024 In his speech, the Russian leader once again railed against the West and accused it of trying to weaken his country. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 Allies have in recent weeks been rattled by dire reports from the front line and worrying signals from the United States, where funding for Ukraine is stalled and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is once again railing against NATO. Beatriz Ríos, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024

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 12 Apr. 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
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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