Dictionary > Rail


1. A bar of timber or metal, usually horizontal or nearly so, extending from one post or support to another, as in fences, balustrades, staircases, etc.
2. A horizontal piece in a frame or paneling.
3. A bar of steel or iron, forming part of the track on which the wheels roll. It is usually shaped with reference to vertical strength, and is held in place by chairs, splices, etc.
4. The stout, narrow plank that forms the top of the bulwarks. The light, fencelike structures of wood or metal at the break of the deck, and elsewhere where such protection is needed. Rail fence. See Fence. Rail guard. A device attached to the front of a locomotive on each side for clearing the rail obstructions. A guard rail. See Guard. Rail joint, a train of rolls in a rolling mill, for making rails for railroads from blooms or billets.
Origin: Akin to LG. & Sw. Regel bar, bolt, G. Riegel a rail, bar, or bolt, OHG, rigil, rigel, bar, bolt, and possibly to E. Row a line.
(Science: ornithology) Any one of numerous species of limicoline birds of the family Rallidae, especially those of the genus Rallus, and of closely allied genera. They are prized as game birds.
The common European water rail (Rallus aquaticus) is called also bilcock, skitty coot, and brook runner. The best known American species are the clapper rail, or saltmarsh hen (Rallus lonqirostris, var. Crepitans); the king, or red-breasted, rail (R. Elegans) (called also fresh water marshhen); the lesser clapper, or virginia, rail (R. Virginianus); and the Carolina, or sora, rail (Porzana Carolina). See Sora.
(Science: zoology) land rail, the corncrake.
Origin: F. Rale, fr. Raler to have a rattling in the throat; of German origin, and akin to E. Rattle. See Rattle.

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