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From French dérailler (“to go off the rails”). Analyzable as de- + rail.
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌdəˈɹeɪ.əl/, /ˌdiːˈɹeɪ.əl/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -eɪl
derail (plural derails)
- Synonym of derailer: A device placed on railway tracks in order to cause a train to derail.
- The derail was placed deliberately so that the train would fall into the river.
- An instance of diverting a conversation or debate from its original topic.
derail (third-person singular simple present derails, present participle derailing, simple past and past participle derailed)
- (transitive) To cause to come off the tracks.
- The train was destroyed when it was derailed by the collision.
- 1940 November, “Notes and News: A Highland Collision”, in Railway Magazine, page 612:
- Among recommendations arising out of the accident were that greater attention should be devoted to the means of derailing runaways on lines so heavily graded as the Highland main line; were it double throughout, catch points would, of course, be laid in, but the catchpoint problem is a difficult one on a single line.
- (intransitive) To come off the tracks.
- 2020 September 9, Paul Clifton, “Heavy rainfall causes landslip in Hampshire: At the scene...”, in Rail, page 10:
- Fortunately, the CrossCountry train did not derail when it struck the mud. It could easily have been much worse.
- (intransitive, figurative) To deviate from the previous course or direction.
- The conversation derailed once James brought up politics.
- (transitive, figurative) To cause to deviate from a set course or direction.
- The protesting students derailed the professor's lecture.
- For quotations using this term, see Citations:derail.
to come off the tracks
to deviate from the previous course or direction
to cause to deviate from a set course or direction
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