third rail

noun

Definition of third rail

  1. 1 :  a metal rail through which electric current is led to the motors of an electric vehicle (such as a subway car)

  2. 2 :  a controversial issue usually avoided by politicians

Examples of third rail in a sentence

  1. Social Security is the third rail of American politics.

1867

First Known Use of third rail

1867


THIRD RAIL Defined for English Language Learners

third rail

noun

Definition of third rail for English Language Learners

  • : a metal rail on a train track that carries electric current to the train's motor

  • : a difficult issue that politicians try to avoid talking about


Learn More about third rail


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a mode of satirical wit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • manet-jeanne-spring
  • Which is a synonym of chaffer?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ