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[reyl-rohd] /ˈreɪlˌroʊd/
a permanent road laid with rails, commonly in one or more pairs of continuous lines forming a track or tracks, on which locomotives and cars are run for the transportation of passengers, freight, and mail.
an entire system of such roads together with its rolling stock, buildings, etc.; the entire railway plant, including fixed and movable property.
the company of persons owning or operating such a plant.
Bowling. a split.
railroads, stocks or bonds of railroad companies.
verb (used with object)
to transport by means of a railroad.
to supply with railroads.
Informal. to push (a law or bill) hastily through a legislature so that there is not time enough for objections to be considered.
Informal. to convict (a person) in a hasty manner by means of false charges or insufficient evidence:
The prisoner insisted he had been railroaded.
verb (used without object)
to work on a railroad.
Origin of railroad
1750-60; 1875-85 for def 9; rail1 + road
Related forms
nonrailroad, adjective
prerailroad, adjective
prorailroad, adjective
unrailroaded, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for railroad
  • We get an all day ticket on the little railroad and then coast down the mountain on a bob and take the train back up.
  • If they are walking on railroad tracks and not paying attention, then they deserve to die.
  • Or being at the switch on railroad tracks while high on crack cocaine.
  • Down the railroad they went and sat on a pile of decaying railroad ties beside the tracks.
  • railroad station reading is as much in vogue as railroad station bolting of meals.
  • They were consequently left on the railroad, where supplies could be brought to them.
  • Already at that day the two languages were so differentiated that they produced wholly distinct railroad nomenclatures.
  • Below the bridge curved a railroad, a maze of green and crimson lights.
  • The crowd closed about the railroad car into which the president-elect and his party made their way.
  • Tells about their upbringings and their earlier careers on the railroad.
British Dictionary definitions for railroad


the usual US word for railway
(transitive) (informal) to force (a person) into (an action) with haste or by unfair means


a permanent track composed of a line of parallel metal rails fixed to sleepers, for transport of passengers and goods in trains
any track on which the wheels of a vehicle may run: a cable railway
the entire equipment, rolling stock, buildings, property, and system of tracks used in such a transport system
the organization responsible for operating a railway network
(modifier) of, relating to, or used on a railway or railways: a railway engine, a railway strike
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for railroad

1757, from rail (n.1) + road. Originally "road laid with rails for heavy wagons (in mining)." The process itself (but not the word) seems to have been in use by late 17c. Application to passenger and freight trains dates from 1825, though tending to be replaced in this sense in England by railway.


"to convict quickly and perhaps unjustly," 1873, American English, from railroad (n.).

A person knowing more than might be desirable of the affairs, or perhaps the previous life of some powerful individual, high in authority, might some day ventilate his knowledge, possibly before a court of justice; but if his wisdom is railroaded to State's prison, his evidence becomes harmless. ["Wanderings of a Vagabond," New York, 1873]
Related: Railroaded; railroading. An earlier verb sense was "to have a mania for building railroads" (1847).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for railroad


  1. To convict and imprison someone very rapidly, perhaps unjustly or illegally: The prisoner is railroaded to jail
  2. To force a resolution of something quickly, perhaps without due process: if all cases were railroaded through that quick (1884+)
Related Terms

a hell of a way to run a railroad

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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