The verb rail means to criticize severely. When you rail against increased taxes at a town meeting, you speak openly and loudly about how wrong the increase is and point out the problems it will cause.

Rail can also mean "to complain." When your mom asks you to vacuum the house, you might rail against this chore by saying that you ALWAYS do the vacuuming, that vacuuming is SO hard, and that you hate the stupid vacuum! Rail can also mean to spread negative information about someone in an abusive way. If your "friends" rail against you to everyone in school, they're spreading nasty rumors about you, and you should find new friends!

Definitions of rail
  1. noun
    a horizontal bar (usually of wood or metal)
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    hitching bar, hitchrack
    a fixed horizontal rail to which a horse can be hitched to prevent it from straying
    ledger board
    top rail of a fence or balustrade
    picture rail
    rail fixed to a wall for hanging pictures
    plate rail
    rail or narrow shelf fixed to a wall to display plates
    fence rail, split rail
    a rail that is split from a log
    type of:
    a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon
  2. noun
    a barrier consisting of a horizontal bar and supports
    synonyms: railing
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    (law) a railing that encloses the part of the courtroom where the judges and lawyers sit and the case is tried
    fife rail
    the railing surrounding the mast of a sailing vessel
    guardrail, safety rail
    a railing placed alongside a stairway or road for safety
    the railing around the stern of a ship
    type of:
    a structure or object that impedes free movement
  3. noun
    a bar or pair of parallel bars of rolled steel making the railway along which railroad cars or other vehicles can roll
    synonyms: rails, runway, track
    see moresee less
    third rail
    a rail through which electric current is supplied to an electric locomotive
    type of:
    a rigid piece of metal or wood; usually used as a fastening or obstruction or weapon
  4. noun
    short for railway
    “he traveled by rail
    “he was concerned with rail safety”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    railroad, railroad line, railway, railway line, railway system
    line that is the commercial organization responsible for operating a system of transportation for trains that pull passengers or freight
  5. verb
    enclose with rails
    rail in the old graves”
    synonyms: rail in
    see moresee less
    type of:
    confine, enclose, hold in
    close in; "darkness confined him"
  6. verb
    provide with rails
    “The yard was railed
    see moresee less
    type of:
    furnish, provide, render, supply
    give something useful or necessary to
  7. verb
    separate with a railing
    rail off the crowds from the Presidential palace”
    synonyms: rail off
    see moresee less
    type of:
    divide, separate
    make a division or separation
  8. verb
    convey (goods etc.) by rails
    “fresh fruit are railed from Italy to Belgium”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    move something or somebody around; usually over long distances
  9. verb
    travel by rail or train
    “They railed from Rome to Venice”
    synonyms: train
    see moresee less
    type of:
    be carried or travel on or in a vehicle
  10. verb
    lay with rails
    “hundreds of miles were railed out here”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    lay, put down, repose
    put in a horizontal position
  11. verb
    fish with a handline over the rails of a boat
    “They are railing for fresh fish”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    catch or try to catch fish or shellfish
  12. verb
    complain bitterly
    synonyms: inveigh
    see moresee less
    type of:
    complain, kick, kvetch, plain, quetch, sound off
    express complaints, discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness
  13. verb
    spread negative information about
    synonyms: revile, vilify, vituperate
    see moresee less
    type of:
    abuse, blackguard, clapperclaw, shout
    use foul or abusive language towards
  14. verb
    criticize severely
    “She railed against the bad social policies”
    synonyms: fulminate
    see moresee less
    type of:
    speak out against
  15. noun
    any of numerous widely distributed small wading birds of the family Rallidae having short wings and very long toes for running on soft mud
    see moresee less
    show 8 types...
    hide 8 types...
    maori hen, weka, wood hen
    flightless New Zealand rail of thievish disposition having short wings each with a spur used in fighting
    any of several short-billed Old World rails
    Notornis mantelli, notornis, takahe
    flightless New Zealand birds similar to gallinules
    slate-black slow-flying birds somewhat resembling ducks
    Crex crex, corncrake, land rail
    common Eurasian rail that frequents grain fields
    Porzana porzana, spotted crake
    Eurasian rail of swamps and marshes
    American coot, Fulica americana, marsh hen, mud hen, water hen
    a coot found in North America
    Fulica atra, Old World coot
    a coot found in Eurasia
    type of:
    wader, wading bird
    any of many long-legged birds that wade in water in search of food
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week