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common name for some members of the large family Rallidae, marsh and tropical forest birds that include the gallinule and the cootcoot,
common name for a migratory marsh bird related to rails and gallinules and found in North America and Europe. The American coot (Fulica americana), or mud hen, is slate gray with a white bill, black head and neck, and white wing edgings and tail patch.
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, two specialized rails. Rails are cosmopolitan in distribution, except in polar regions. Although migratory, they have small wings and are weak fliers, escaping danger by concealment rather than flight. They are protectively colored in drab browns and reds and have extremely slender bodies (whence the expression "thin as a rail") and strong legs, enabling them to dart through thick marsh vegetation undetected. Rails, also called mud hens or marsh hens, are omnivorous, hunting their food at nightfall. They may be divided into two major types: the long-billed rails, which include the Virginia (Rallus limicola), king, clapper, and water rails; and those with short, conical bills, including the sora (Porzana carolina), yellow, and black rails (called crakes in Europe.) Gallinules are rails that have webbed toes; they are more aquatic and less timid than those members of the family specifically called rails. They have bright forehead shields and are widespread in temperate and tropical regions. The common American gallinule, Gallinula chloropus, and the similar Eurasian moorhen are drab in color; the gaudier purple gallinule, Porphyrula martinica, found from Texas to Ecuador, has blue-green plumage and yellow legs. Fifteen species of extinct flightless rails are known, and a number of flightless rails and gallinules still exist. The rails are all considered good game birds and are perhaps the most widely distributed of all the avian families. Rails are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Gruiformes, family Rallidae.


A bar of wood or other material passing from one post or support to another support; a horizontal piece in the frame or paneling, as in a door rail or in the framework of a window sash.



a wooden or metal plank mounted above the bulwarks or stanchions and lifelines of a vessel.



a bar of grooved and rolled steel that is used for the movement of railroad and subway rolling stock, streetcars, locomotives, pit cars, monorail cars, crane trolleys, and other structures that are capable of locomotion, turning, or revolving.

Metal rails were first produced in 1767 in Great Britain. In Russia cast-iron rails were used in mine and factory lines in 1788 at the Alexander Cannon Factory in Petrozavodsk. Rolled-steel rails were widely used in the second half of the 19th century—in Russia they were manufactured in, for example, the Putilov Factory. Rails are now produced by means of rolling production and are made of special rail steel, which has a chemical composition that is determined by government standards.

Railroad rails are part of a track superstructure and are laid on supports and are attached to the supports and to each other, forming a track. Railroad rails receive the load stress of the rolling-stock wheels. In the USSR there are four types of rails—R43, R50, R65, and R75—each classified according to a rounded-off weight of 1 m. The cross section of the rails is similar to that of an I-beam, and its dimensions are regulated by government standards. The selection of a rail type depends on the freight-traffic density of the line. In the mid-1950’s rails 12.5 m long were produced. Since the early 1970’s there has been a transition to rails 25 m long. Short rails are produced for laying track in curved sections. The basic information about the rail is registered on each rolled bar. Railroad rails produced outside the USSR differ somewhat from those produced within the country, although their cross section is also shaped like an I-beam.

Streetcar rails are made in the same way as railroad rails, but they have a depression and are usually higher and have a greater cross section area. These rails are 15–18 m long and are usually welded together upon laying the track.

Rails lighter than railroad rails are used for pit cars, mobile hoisting cranes and their mechanisms, and turning and rotary units; in some cases, these rails have a special cross section.


Shakhuniants, G. M. Zheleznodorozhnyi put’. Moscow, 1969.
Chernyshev, M. A. Zheleznodorozhnyi put’. Moscow, 1974.



A bar extending between posts or other supports as a barrier or guard.
A steel bar resting on the crossties to provide track for railroad cars and other vehicles with flanged wheels.
(mechanical engineering)
A high-pressure manifold in some fuel injection systems.


rail, 3
ragwork, 1
1. A bar of wood or other material passing from one post or other support to another; a hand support along a stairway.
2. A structure consisting of rails and their sustaining posts, balusters, or pillars, and constituting an enclosure or a line of division, as a balcony rail.
3. A horizontal piece in a frame or paneling as a door rail, or in the framework of a window sash.


1. one of a pair of parallel bars laid on a prepared track, roadway, etc., that serve as a guide and running surface for the wheels of a railway train, tramcar, etc.
a. short for railway
b. (as modifier): rail transport
3. Nautical a trim for finishing the top of a bulwark


any of various small wading birds of the genus Rallus and related genera: family Rallidae, order Gruiformes (cranes, etc.). They have short wings, long legs, and dark plumage


Automatix. High-level language for industrial robots.


(1) See The Rail and Ruby.

(2) A DC voltage in a power supply. A computer's power supply converts AC power into several DC voltages (typically plus and minus 3.3v, 5v and 12v), each of which is known as a rail. The term comes from the power lines on motherboards. Power must be available throughout a motherboard; hence, voltage lines tend to run in long strips like railroad tracks.
References in periodicals archive ?
Adjust the ladder to one of nine different lockable positions and then attach the unique safety hand rail in position to provide that extra support and re-assurance that no other ladder of this type provides.
Once all your brackets are fitted firmly to the rail, you can hold up the hand rail into position.
When I got to the top of the ladder (yes, the very same one I'd fallen down a month earlier), I thought, "I really should have at least one hand on the hand rail.
Use a couple of cables spaced two-to-three feet apart, stretched across the ravine, with the foot boards attached to the cables and hand rails (made of heavy nylon rope).
Extra High Super Stable "Safety-Steps" HAND RAIL FOR EXTRA SUPPORT JUST pounds 49.
My dilemma is, should I have proper concrete steps built with a hand rail to help these people in case they hurt themselves while relieving me of my possessions?
Steadying herself with a silver-topped walking stick, the Queen Mother clutched a hand rail as she slowly descended the three steps from the King Edward VII Hospital in central London.
Tenders are invited for Entrance Handrail For Bg Coaches Consisting Of 02 Two Items Are As I Entrance Hand Rail For Bg Icf Coaches To Icf S Drg No.
Coroner's officer Arthur Flower said: "He was on the top holding on to a hand rail 30ft up when he reached over to his left and overstretched, causing the scaffolding to move back.
Earlier this month Highland Council lodged plans for a hand rail along a section of the path through the gorge.
HOW: The balusters simply slot into the base rail and attach to the hand rail.
It smashed against a hand rail and glass shards hit Catherine Jarvis in the face.