rail

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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!
See also: off, rail

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.
See also: rail, thin

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.
See also: on, rail, ride

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.
See also: rail

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!
See also: rail

go off the rails

also 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
See also: off, rail

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)
See also: back, on, rail

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.
See also: off, rail

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.
See also: rake, thin

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]
See also: off, rail

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]
See also: rail, thin

third rail

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.
See also: rail, third

rail against

v.
To protest something vehemently, especially using strong language: The students railed against the change to a longer school year.
See also: rail

rail at

v.
To criticize someone or something in harsh, bitter, or abusive language: The workers railed at the new contract that cut medical benefits.
See also: rail

line

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.

rail

verb
See line

rails

n. powdered cocaine arranged into lines. (Drugs.) Max makes the rails too messy.
See also: rail
References in classic literature ?
At this Jove was much troubled and answered, "I shall have trouble if you set me quarrelling with Juno, for she will provoke me with her taunting speeches; even now she is always railing at me before the other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the Trojans.
He will doubtless let you have your say about that, my dear," Captain Hagberd intimated to her across the railing.
For all their intimacy, which had lasted some years now, they had never talked without a fence or a railing between them.
He's our landlord," Bessie faltered out, catch- ing hold of the iron railing.
Along Downing Street he made his way by the railings and rang the bell at last at the Premier's house.
The rain poured down in torrents; yet despite these two obstacles, the young man was obliged to go out, if it were but for a quarter of an hour; and as to telling the door-keeper about it, that, he thought, was quite unnecessary, if, with a whole skin, he were able to slip through the railings.
And he now remembered the important event of the evening before, how his head had got jammed in between the iron railings of the hospital.
feeling it hopeless to drag him, or coax him), and crosses to the iron railing where the Stony (and stoned) One is profoundly meditating.
Your own brother-in-law;' introducing a sarcophagus within the railing, white and cold in the moonlight.
Halfway across stood Prince Nesvitski, who had alighted from his horse and whose big body was body was jammed against the railings.
The squadwon can't pass," shouted Vaska Denisov, showing his white teeth fiercely and spurring his black thoroughbred Arab, which twitched its ears as the bayonets touched it, and snorted, spurting white foam from his bit, tramping the planks of the bridge with his hoofs, and apparently ready to jump over the railings had his rider let him.
They can't resist following the children, but you seldom see them, partly because they live in the daytime behind the railings, where you are not allowed to go, and also partly because they are so cunning.