American Dictionary of the English Language

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RAIL, noun

1. A cross beam fixed at the ends in two upright posts.

[In New England, this is never called a beam; pieces of timber of the proper size for rails are called scantling.]

2. In the United States, a piece of timber cleft, hewed or sawed, rough or smooth, inserted in upright posts for fencing. The common rails among farmers, are rough, being used as they are split from the chestnut or other trees. The rails used in fences of boards or pickets round gentlemen's houses and gardens, are usually sawed scantling and often dressed with the plane.

3. A bar of wood or iron used for inclosing any place; the piece into which ballusters are inserted.

4. A series of posts connected with cross beams, by which a place is inclosed.

In New England we never call this series a rail but by the general term railing. In a picket fence, the pales or pickets rise above the rails; in a ballustrade, or fence resembling it, the ballusters usually terminate in the rails.

5. In a ship, a narrow plank nailed for ornament or security on a ship's upper works; also, a curved piece of timber extending from the bows of a ship to the continuation of its stern, to support the knee of the head, etc.

RAIL, noun A bird of the genus Rallus, consisting of many species. The water rail has a long slender body with short concave wings. The birds of the genus inhabit the slimy margins of rivers and ponds covered with marsh plants.

RAIL, noun

A woman's upper garment; retained in the word nightrail, but not used in the United States.

RAIL, verb transitive

1. To inclose with rails.

2. To range in a line.

RAIL, verb intransitive [Eng. to brawl.]

To utter reproaches; to scoff; to use insolent and reproachful language; to reproach or censure in opprobrious terms; followed by at or against, formerly by on.

And rail at arts he did not understand.

Lesbia forever on e rails.