jump the track(s)

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jump the track(s)

1. Literally, of a train, to derail from the track. Due to a technical issue, the train wasn't able to slow down ahead of the turn and ended up jumping the track because of its speed.
2. By extension, to veer off in very unexpected directions; to lose or change focus in surprising or bizarre ways. The long-running drama has by this point jumped the track so completely that it would be foolish to try and summarize it for the uninitiated. The manager's speech really jumped the tracks about halfway through, shifting into a weird commentary on the nature of corporate America.
See also: jump

jump the track

 
1. Lit. [for something] to fall or jump off the rails or guides. (Usually said about a train.) The train jumped the track, causing many injuries to the passengers. The engine jumped the track, but the other cars stayed on.
2. . Fig. to change suddenly from one thing, thought, plan, or activity to another. The entire project jumped the track, and we finally had to give up. John's mind jumped the track while he was in the play, and he forgot his lines.
See also: jump, track

jump the track

Suddenly switch from one thought or activity to another. For example, Joe was describing his trip to Australia and, jumping the track, began complaining about the airline , or They couldn't decide on the next step and now the whole reorganization plan has jumped the track . This expression alludes to a train going off the rails. [Colloquial; early 1900s]
See also: jump, track
References in periodicals archive ?
But Rylander seemed to jump the tracks with his suggestion - delivered with a smile, but delivered without rebuttal - that the people in front of him could use their bureaucratic wiles to follow the state's open information laws, which require responses to requests within 10 business days, as slowly as possible.
But as serotonin spreads from the brain into the spinal cord, we found the chemical can 'jump the tracks', moving from pain-sensing neurons to nerve cells that influence itch intensity."
Larger objects, such as bricks or cinder blocks, have caused trains to jump the tracks, but a penny just isn't big enough to cause damage to the train.
This educators' manual is divided into the seven sections: (1) "Introduction Why Invention and Play?"; (2) "Exhibition Description"; (3) "Playful Inventors" (Borrow from Nature: Inventors: Alexander Graham Bell, Paul McCready, Activities; Keep Making It Better: Inventors: Newman Darby, Sally Fox, Activity; Find Opportunities in Obstacles: Inventors: Ann Moore, Krysta Morlan, Activity; Recognize the Unusual: Inventors: Stephanie Kwolek, Art Fry, Activity; Jump the Tracks: Inventors: James McLurkin, Chuck Hoberman, Activities; Many Heads Are Better Than One: Inventors: IDEO Company, Thomas Edison and Menlo Park, Activity); (4) "The Invention Playhouse"; (5) "Issues in Play Past, Present, and Future"; (6) "Invention and Play Quotations"; and (7) "Teacher Resources and References." (BT)
Thunderstorms on Friday dumped nearly four inches of rain in northern New York and weakened the ground around a rail trestle near Port Kent, causing a freight train to jump the tracks and 16 cars to spill their cargo.
The thrill and mystery, shifting with each shot, is intense anticipation, like boarding a rollercoaster that could jump the tracks.