Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: TRAINS, RAILWAYS

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: reille 'bar', from Latin regula 'ruler', from regere 'to keep straight'

rail

1 noun
     
rail1 S2 W2
1 [uncountable]TTT the railway system [↪ train]:
the American rail system
a high-speed rail network
Passengers want a better rail service.
the Channel Tunnel and its rail links with London
by rail
We continued our journey by rail.
I need to buy a rail ticket.
2 [countable]TTT one of the two long metal tracks fastened to the ground that trains move along
3 [countable]DHTBB a bar that is fastened along or around something, especially to stop you from going somewhere or from falling:
Several passengers were leaning against the ship's rail.
guardrail, handrail
4 [countable]DHDC a bar that you use to hang things on:
5

go off the rails

informalSC to start behaving in a strange or socially unacceptable way:
At 17 he suddenly went off the rails and started stealing.
6

back on the rails

happening or functioning normally again:
The coach was credited with putting the team back on the rails.
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