Underground railroad
Railroad Rail"road` (r[=a]l"r[=o]d`), Railway Rail"way` (r[=a]l"w[=a]`), n. 1. A road or way consisting of one or more parallel series of iron or steel rails, patterned and adjusted to be tracks for the wheels of vehicles, and suitably supported on a bed or substructure. [1913 Webster]

Note: The modern railroad is a development and adaptation of the older tramway. [1913 Webster]

2. The road, track, etc., with all the lands, buildings, rolling stock, franchises, etc., pertaining to them and constituting one property; as, a certain railroad has been put into the hands of a receiver. [1913 Webster]

Note: Railway is the commoner word in England; railroad the commoner word in the United States. [1913 Webster]

Note: In the following and similar phrases railroad and railway are used interchangeably: [1913 Webster]

{Atmospheric railway}, {Elevated railway}, etc. See under {Atmospheric}, {Elevated}, etc.

{Cable railway}. See {Cable road}, under {Cable}.

{Ferry railway}, a submerged track on which an elevated platform runs, for carrying a train of cars across a water course.

{Gravity railway}, a railway, in a hilly country, on which the cars run by gravity down gentle slopes for long distances after having been hauled up steep inclines to an elevated point by stationary engines.

{Railway brake}, a brake used in stopping railway cars or locomotives.

{Railway car}, a large, heavy vehicle with flanged wheels fitted for running on a railway. [U.S.]

{Railway carriage}, a railway passenger car. [Eng.]

{Railway scale}, a platform scale bearing a track which forms part of the line of a railway, for weighing loaded cars.

{Railway slide}. See {Transfer table}, under {Transfer}.

{Railway spine} (Med.), an abnormal condition due to severe concussion of the spinal cord, such as occurs in railroad accidents. It is characterized by ataxia and other disturbances of muscular function, sensory disorders, pain in the back, impairment of general health, and cerebral disturbance, -- the symptoms often not developing till some months after the injury.

{Underground railroad} {Underground railway}. (a) A railroad or railway running through a tunnel, as beneath the streets of a city. (b) Formerly, a system of co["o]peration among certain active antislavery people in the United States prior to 1866, by which fugitive slaves were secretly helped to reach Canada.

Note: [In the latter sense railroad, and not railway, was usually used.] ``Their house was a principal entrep[^o]t of the underground railroad.'' --W. D. Howells. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Underground railroad — Underground Un der*ground , a. 1. Being below the surface of the ground; as, an underground story or apartment. [1913 Webster] 2. Done or occurring out of sight; secret. [Colloq.] [1913 Webster] {Underground railroad} or {Underground railway}.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Underground Railroad — network of U.S. anti slavery activists helping runaways elude capture, attested from 1852 but said to date from 1831, coined in jest by bewildered trackers after their slaves vanished without a trace …   Etymology dictionary

  • underground railroad — ☆ underground railroad n. [often U R ] in the U.S. before the Civil War, a system set up by certain opponents of slavery to help fugitive slaves escape to free states and Canada …   English World dictionary

  • Underground Railroad — This article is about the 19th century slave escape routes. For an article about railroads built below ground, see rapid transit. For the band, see Underground Railroad (band). Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Underground Railroad — Karte einiger Routen der Underground Railroad Die Underground Railroad (Untergrundbahn) war ein aus Gegnern der Sklaverei – auch Weißen – bestehendes informelles Netzwerk, das Sklaven auf der Flucht aus den Südstaaten Amerikas nach Norden, z. B.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • underground railroad — 1. Also called underground railway. a railroad running through a continuous tunnel, as under city streets; subway. 2. (often caps.) U.S. Hist. (before the abolition of slavery) a system for helping fugitive slaves to escape into Canada or other… …   Universalium

  • Underground Railroad — Chemin de fer clandestin Les routes empruntées par le chemin de fer clandestin. Le Chemin de fer clandestin (Underground Railroad, en anglais) était un réseau de routes clandestines construites par les esclaves noirs américains pour se réfugier… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Underground Railroad — Underground Rail|road, the a group of people in the US who illegally helped ↑slaves to become free by helping them to escape to the northern US and Canada, in the period before the ↑Civil War. One of its best known members was Harriet Tubman …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Underground Railroad — noun Date: 1842 a system of cooperation among active antislavery people in the United States before 1863 by which fugitive slaves were secretly helped to reach the North or Canada called also Underground Railway …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • underground railroad —    obsolete American    the protection of escaped slaves organized by philanthropists in the North    An antebellum phenomenon:     The escape route for runaway slaves was known as the underground railway because it was so reliable. (Faith, 1990… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

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