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be off the rails
1. To be in a state of chaos, dysfunction, or disorder. Our project has been off the rails ever since the manager up and quit last month.
2. To be crazy, eccentric, or mentally unhinged. I think you should cut back on your drinking—you were totally off the rails last night!
ride the rail(s)
To travel on a vehicle mounted on rails (especially a train or streetcar). I know it takes a lot longer than flying, but I love riding the rail from Portland to Vancouver. People often romanticize riding the rails across the country as hobos did during the Great Depression, but I doubt many would actually find much pleasure in it.
See also: ride
be (as) thin as a rail
To be extremely skinny or slender. Primarily heard in US. Have you seen Claire lately? I'm really worried about her, she's as thin as a rail! I've always been thin as a rail, even when I tried to gain weight.
ride on a rail
To be punished harshly, often publicly, and perhaps culminating in exile. The phrase originally referred to a punishment in which a wrongdoer was paraded around town on a rail and then exiled. Now that this scandal is public knowledge, I'm afraid that I'm going to ride on a rail before it's all over.
rail against someone or something
to complain vehemently about someone or something. Why are you railing against me? What did I do? Leonard is railing against the tax increase again.
rail at someone (about something)
to complain loudly or violently to someone about something. Jane railed at the payroll clerk about not having received her check. I am not responsible for your problems. Don't rail at me!
go off the railsalso run off the rails
to be spoiled by bad management Things were going off the rails here, and no one was getting any work done. This is a well-intentioned system that has been run off the rails.
Etymology: from the idea of a train leaving the rails (metal bars) it travels on
be back on the rails(British)
to be making progress once more The minister emerged from three hours of discussions, confident that the talks are now back on the rails. (British)
go off the rails(informal)
to start behaving strangely or in a way that is not acceptable to society He went off the rails in his twenties and started living on the streets. By the law of probabilities if you have five kids, one of them's going to go off the rails.
be as thin as a rake(British, American & Australian) also be as thin as a rail (mainly American)
to be very thin He eats like a horse and yet he's as thin as a rake. She's as thin as a rail from all that running.
off the rails
In an abnormal or malfunctioning condition, as in Her political campaign has been off the rails for months. The phrase occurs commonly with go, as in Once the superintendent resigned, the effort to reform the school system went off the rails . This idiom alludes to the rails on which trains run; if a train goes off the rails, it stops or crashes. [Mid-1800s]
thin as a rail
Very slender, as in I do not know why she's dieting; she's thin as a rail already. This simile, which uses rail in the sense of "a narrow bar," has largely replaced such other versions as thin as a lath or rake, although the latter is still common in Britain. [Second half of 1800s]
Something that is dangerous to tamper with, as in Anything concerning veterans is a political third rail. This term alludes to the rail that supplies the high voltage powering an electric train, so called since 1918. On the other hand, grab hold of the third rail means "become energized." Both shifts from the original meaning date from the late 1900s.
To protest something vehemently, especially using strong language: The students railed against the change to a longer school year.
To criticize someone or something in harsh, bitter, or abusive language: The workers railed at the new contract that cut medical benefits.
1. n. a story or argument; a story intended to seduce someone. (see also lines.) Don’t feed me that line. Do you think I was born yesterday?
2. and rail n. a dose of finely cut cocaine arranged in a line, ready for insufflation or snorting. Let’s you and me go do some lines, okay? The addict usually “snorts” one or two of these “rails” with some sort of a tube.
n. powdered cocaine arranged into lines. (Drugs.) Max makes the rails too messy.