- a permanent road laid with rails, commonly in one or more pairs of continuous lines forming a track or tracks, on which locomotives and cars are run for the transportation of passengers, freight, and mail.
- an entire system of such roads together with its rolling stock, buildings, etc.; the entire railway plant, including fixed and movable property.
- the company of persons owning or operating such a plant.
- Bowling. a split.
- railroads, stocks or bonds of railroad companies.
verb (used with object)
- to transport by means of a railroad.
- to supply with railroads.
- Informal. to push (a law or bill) hastily through a legislature so that there is not time enough for objections to be considered.
- Informal. to convict (a person) in a hasty manner by means of false charges or insufficient evidence: The prisoner insisted he had been railroaded.
verb (used without object)
- to work on a railroad.
- the usual US word for railway
- (tr) informal to force (a person) into (an action) with haste or by unfair means
1757, from rail (n.1) + road. Originally “road laid with rails for heavy wagons (in mining).” The process itself (but not the word) seems to have been in use by late 17c. Application to passenger and freight trains dates from 1825, though tending to be replaced in this sense in England by railway.
“to convict quickly and perhaps unjustly,” 1873, American English, from railroad (n.).
A person knowing more than might be desirable of the affairs, or perhaps the previous life of some powerful individual, high in authority, might some day ventilate his knowledge, possibly before a court of justice; but if his wisdom is railroaded to State’s prison, his evidence becomes harmless. [“Wanderings of a Vagabond,” New York, 1873]
Related: Railroaded; railroading. An earlier verb sense was “to have a mania for building railroads” (1847).