off the rails

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the derailment of a locomotive

Prepositional phrase[edit]

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 July 13, Ed Bentley, “Lenin 1, Tsar Nicholas 0 – but Sheremetyevo-3”, in 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 July 10, Jenny Johnston, “You won't catch us going to rehab: So have the young stars of Harry Potter turned into superbrats?”, in 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]