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rail1

[reyl] /reɪl/
noun
1.
a bar of wood or metal fixed horizontally for any of various purposes, as for a support, barrier, fence, or railing.
2.
a fence; railing.
3.
one of two fences marking the inside and outside boundaries of a racetrack.
4.
one of a pair of steel bars that provide the running surfaces for the wheels of locomotives and railroad cars.
5.
the railroad as a means of transportation:
to travel by rail.
6.
rails, stocks or bonds of railroad companies.
7.
Nautical. a horizontal member capping a bulwark.
8.
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 .
9.
Slang. a line of cocaine crystals or powder for inhaling through the nose.
verb (used with object)
10.
to furnish or enclose with a rail or rails.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English raile < Old French raille bar, beam < Latin rēgula bar, straight piece of wood, regula
Related forms
railless, adjective
raillike, adjective

rail2

[reyl] /reɪl/
verb (used without object)
1.
to utter bitter complaint or vehement denunciation (often followed by at or against):
to rail at fate.
verb (used with object)
2.
to bring, force, etc., by railing.
Origin
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
Related forms
railer, noun
railingly, adverb
Synonyms
1. fulminate, inveigh, castigate, rant, revile.

rail3

[reyl] /reɪl/
noun
1.
any of numerous birds of the family Rallidae, that have short wings, a narrow body, long toes, and a harsh cry and inhabit grasslands, forests, and marshes in most parts of the world.
Origin
1400-50; late Middle English rale < Old French raale (cognate with Provençal rascla), noun derivative of raler < Vulgar Latin *rāsiculāre frequentative of Latin rādere (past participle rāsus) to scratch
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for rails
  • Bed rails are made of wood or metal and are attached to a headboard and footboard.
  • Usage with conventional rails all applications are in rapid transit.
  • On early lines, vehicles were moved between tracks by means of sliding rails.
  • Joints are used where the moving points meet the fixed rails of the switch.
  • Either of the two shorter rails of a billiards or pocket billiards table.
  • The coffin was a solid bronze casket with gold plated rails and white upholstery.
  • Four slippers secured the carriage to the rails while permitting it to slide freely.
British Dictionary definitions for rails

rail1

/reɪl/
noun
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.
a horizontal framing member in a door or piece of panelling Compare stile2
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.
  1. short for railway
  2. (as modifier): rail transport
7.
(nautical) a trim for finishing the top of a bulwark
8.
off the rails
  1. into or in a state of dysfunction or disorder
  2. eccentric or mad
verb (transitive)
9.
to provide with a rail or railings
10.
usually foll by in or off. to fence (an area) with rails
Derived Forms
railless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French raille rod, from Latin rēgula ruler, straight piece of wood

rail2

/reɪl/
verb
1.
(intransitive; foll by at or against) to complain bitterly or vehemently: to rail against fate
Derived Forms
railer, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French railler to mock, from Old Provençal ralhar to chatter, joke, from Late Latin ragere to yell, neigh

rail3

/reɪl/
noun
1.
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
Word Origin
C15: from Old French raale, perhaps from Latin rādere to scrape
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 rails

rail

n.

"horizontal bar passing from one post or support to another," c.1300, from Old French reille "bolt, bar," from Vulgar Latin *regla, from Latin regula "straight stick," diminutive form related to regere "to straighten, guide" (see regal). Used figuratively for thinness from 1872. To be off the rails in a figurative sense is from 1848, an image from the railroads. In U.S. use, "A piece of timber, cleft, hewed, or sawed, inserted in upright posts for fencing" [Webster, 1830].

"small wading bird," mid-15c., from Old French raale (13c.), related to râler "to rattle," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative of its cry.

v.

"complain," mid-15c., from Middle French railler "to tease or joke" (15c.), perhaps from Old Provençal ralhar "scoff, to chat, to joke," from Vulgar Latin *ragulare "to bray" (cf. Italian ragghiare "to bray"), from Late Latin ragere "to roar," probably of imitative origin. See rally (v.2). Related: Railed; railing.

"fence in with rails," late 14c., from rail (n.1). Related: Railed; railing.

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

rail

noun
  1. A thin row of powdered narcotic to be sniffed; line: I snorted the rails that Hondo offered (1960s+ Narcotics)
  2. An elongated sort of competition hot rod (1970s+ Hot rodders)

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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Idioms and Phrases with rails
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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