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1 [reyl]
a bar of wood or metal fixed horizontally for any of various purposes, as for a support, barrier, fence, or railing.
a fence; railing.
one of two fences marking the inside and outside boundaries of a racetrack.
one of a pair of steel bars that provide the running surfaces for the wheels of locomotives and railroad cars. See illus. under flange.
the railroad as a means of transportation: to travel by rail.
rails, stocks or bonds of railroad companies.
Nautical. a horizontal member capping a bulwark.
Carpentry, Furniture. any of various horizontal members framing panels or the like, as in a system of paneling, paneled door, window sash, or chest of drawers. Compare stile2.
Slang. a line of cocaine crystals or powder for inhaling through the nose.
verb (used with object)
to furnish or enclose with a rail or rails.

1250–1300; Middle English raile < Old French raille bar, beam < Latin rēgula bar, straight piece of wood, regula

railless, adjective
raillike, adjective


2 [reyl]
verb (used without object)
to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against ): to rail at fate.
verb (used with object)
to bring, force, etc., by railing.

1425–75; late Middle English railen < Middle French railler to deride < Provençal ralhar to chatter < Vulgar Latin *ragulāre, derivative of Late Latin ragere to bray

railer, noun
railingly, adverb

1. fulminate, inveigh, castigate, rant, revile.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rail1 (reɪl)
1.  a horizontal bar of wood, metal, etc, supported by vertical posts, functioning as a fence, barrier, handrail, etc
2.  a horizontal bar fixed to a wall on which to hang things: a picture rail
3.  Compare stile a horizontal framing member in a door or piece of panelling
4.  short for railing
5.  one of a pair of parallel bars laid on a prepared track, roadway, etc, that serve as a guide and running surface for the wheels of a railway train, tramcar, etc
6.  a.  short for railway
 b.  (as modifier): rail transport
7.  nautical a trim for finishing the top of a bulwark
8.  off the rails
 a.  into or in a state of dysfunction or disorder
 b.  eccentric or mad
vb (usually foll by in or off)
9.  to provide with a rail or railings
10.  to fence (an area) with rails
[C13: from Old French raille rod, from Latin rēgula ruler, straight piece of wood]

rail2 (reɪl)
(intr; foll by at or against) to complain bitterly or vehemently: to rail against fate
[C15: from Old French railler to mock, from Old Provençal ralhar to chatter, joke, from Late Latin ragere to yell, neigh]

rail3 (reɪl)
any of various small wading birds of the genus Rallus and related genera: family Rallidae, order Gruiformes (cranes, etc). They have short wings, long legs, and dark plumage
[C15: from Old French raale, perhaps from Latin rādere to scrape]

railing (ˈreɪlɪŋ)
1.  (often plural) a fence, balustrade, or barrier that consists of rails supported by posts
2.  rails collectively or material for making rails

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"bar," c.1320, from O.Fr. reille, from V.L. *regla, from L. regula "straight stick," dim. form related to regere "to straighten, guide" (see right). Used figuratively for "thinness" from 1872. Technically, railings (1471) are horizontal, palings are vertical.

"small bird," mid-15c., from O.Fr. raale (13c.), related to râler "to rattle," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative.

"complain," 1460, from M.Fr. railler "to tease or joke" (15c.), perhaps from O.Prov. ralhar "scoff, to chat, to joke," from V.L. *ragulare "to bray" (cf. It. ragghiare "to bray"), from L.L. ragere "to roar," probably of imitative origin. See rally (2). Raillery "good-humored ridicule" is from 1653.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The barrier on top of a wall could be a fence, beam guard, or a railing.
For a higher deck, check whether a railing may be necessary.
The iron railing was cold even through my leather mittens.
Speculation that it might be an elevator car railing has not been confirmed.
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