derailed; derailing; derails

When a train or a subway derails, its wheels accidentally leave the tracks. Train cars that derail can cause the cars behind them to crash.

Mistakes by engineers or flaws in the track can derail a train or trolley, sending it off the rails and sometimes injuring the passengers. You can also use the verb derail figuratively, to mean "hinder someone" or "divert a process from going in its intended direction." For example, terrorists might derail ongoing peace talks by blowing up a bus. The word comes from the French dérailler, "go off the rails."

Definitions of derail
  1. verb
    run off or leave the rails
    “the train derailed because a cow was standing on the tracks”
    synonyms: jump
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    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  2. verb
    cause to run off the tracks
    “they had planned to derail the trains that carried atomic waste”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    counteract, countermine, sabotage, subvert, undermine, weaken
    destroy property or hinder normal operations
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘derail'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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