off the rails

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the derailment of a locomotive

Adverb[edit]

off the rails (comparative more off the rails, superlative most off the rails)

  1. (idiomatic) In an abnormal manner, especially in a manner that causes damage or malfunctioning
  2. (idiomatic) Insane.
  3. (idiomatic) Off the intended path.
    • 2009‎ Jul 13, Ed Bentley, “Lenin 1, Tsar Nicholas 0 – but Sheremetyevo-3”, Moscow News:
      ... but the plan came off the rails when infuriated Communists called it "ideological provocation" and warned against "kindling political confrontation
  4. (idiomatic) Out of control.
    • 2009‎ Jul 10, Jenny Johnston, “You won't catch us going to rehab: So have the young stars of Harry Potter turned into superbrats?”, Daily Mail:
      I reckon it's pretty astonishing that none of us did go off the rails. There really was no telling how any of us would deal with the pressures and the fame.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Most commonly used with the verb "to go", but also with forms of "to be", "to come" and others.

Translations[edit]