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rail 1

a. A bar extending horizontally between supports, as in a fence.
b. A structure made of such bars and supports and forming a barrier or guard; a railing.
2. A steel bar used, usually in pairs, as a track for railroad cars or other wheeled vehicles.
3. Sports A grind rail.
4. The railroad as a means of transportation: goods transported by rail.
5. A horizontal framing member in a door or in paneling.
tr.v. railed, rail·ing, rails
To supply or enclose with rails or a rail.

[Middle English raile, from Old French reille, from Latin rēgula, straight piece of wood, ruler; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]

rail 2

Any of various marsh birds of the family Rallidae, found worldwide and characteristically having brownish plumage and short wings.

[Middle English rale, from Old French rasle, probably named for their harsh cries and from Old French *rasler, to make a harsh noise (attested in Middle French rasler, to haggle, bellow like a stag), akin to Old French rasclar, to harrow, rake, from Old Provençal rasclar; see raclette.]

rail 3

intr.v. railed, rail·ing, rails
To express objections or criticisms in bitter, harsh, or abusive language. See Synonyms at scold.

[Middle English railen, from Old French railler, to tease, joke, from Old Provençal ralhar, to chat, joke, from Vulgar Latin *ragulāre, to bray, from Late Latin ragere.]

rail′er n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.rails - a bar or pair of parallel bars of rolled steel making the railway along which railroad cars or other vehicles can rollrails - a bar or pair of parallel bars of rolled steel making the railway along which railroad cars or other vehicles can roll
bar - a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon; "there were bars in the windows to prevent escape"
railroad track, railway, railroad - a line of track providing a runway for wheels; "he walked along the railroad track"
third rail - a rail through which electric current is supplied to an electric locomotive
streetcar track, tramline, tramway - the track on which trams or streetcars run
References in classic literature ?
During the bustle Jo had scarcely spoken but flown about, looking pale and wild, with her things half off, her dress torn, and her hands cut and bruised by ice and rails and refractory buckles.
The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run.
I never was in a better box than that, and the sides were not so high but that I could see all that went on through the iron rails that were at the top.
By and by they came to the place where steel rails were made; and Jurgis heard a toot behind him, and jumped out of the way of a car with a white-hot ingot upon it, the size of a man's body.
When you left, three miles of the London, Canterbury and Dover were ready for the rails, and also ready and ripe for manipulation in the stock-market.
The river was full of logs--long, slender, barkless pine logs--and we leaned on the rails of the bridge, and watched the men put them together into rafts.
They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly in my face, and kept still, watch- ing with all their might.
She was returning: of course my heart thumped with impatience against the iron rails I leant upon.
As I reached them, Hindley leant forward on the rails to listen to a noise below; almost forgetting what he had in his hands.
Barkis tied the horse to some rails, and went in with Peggotty, leaving little Em'ly and me alone in the chaise.
Soon the front end of the ship began to go down and down, faster and faster--till the boat looked almost as though it were standing on its head; and the pirates had to cling to the rails and the masts and the ropes and anything to keep from sliding off.
In came cities of unprecedented bulk, but held together so closely by a web-work of steel rails and copper wires that they have become more alert and cooperative than any tiny hamlet of mud huts on the banks of the Congo.