Part of speech:
(Like “eat,” “try,” and “want,” all transitive verbs do something to an object.
You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone.
Likewise, you railroad something or someone.)
Consider how the force, speed, and singular direction of a train on railroad tracks gives us these abstract meanings:
When you railroad someone into doing something, you're being hasty and threatening to force that person into doing that thing.
And when you railroad something, you force it to happen quickly, without taking the time or thought that you really should.
How to use it:
Talk about railroading someone, or railroading someone into an action, or someone being railroaded: "She's trying to railroad me into this contract." "I refuse to be railroaded. Give me time to consider the offer." Often, the specific meaning of getting railroaded is that you're being convicted of a crime in a thoughtless, overly fast way: you'll say someone was "railroaded through the courts" or "railroaded into prison," for instance.
You'll also talk about railroading something (often into or through something else): railroading a new program into a school, railroading a change into the employee handbook, railroading a proposal through the committee. Often, it's laws that get railroaded, or forced into being: "Some say the new law was railroaded through Congress on the steam of people's fears."
There are lots of other meanings for this word, but those are the ones we'll focus on. I suppose you can also be more concrete and say, for instance, "With a booming voice and a sloshing cup, he railroaded into the party and sent the girls scattering."
The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter, one of my favorite books for young readers, is about a boy who gets railroaded into in-school suspension for an entire year after playing an elaborate prank.
When we owned our first home, in my naive excitement to get the kitchen cabinets looking pretty, I let a Home Depot salesperson railroad me into signing a contract when he told me that the price would go up if I didn't sign right then and there.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "railroad” means when you can explain it without saying “force through" or “quickly shove into."
Think of a time you had to pause and say "Wait, wait, wait, let me think about this first," and fill in the blanks: "To avoid getting railroaded into _____, I _____."
Example: "To avoid getting railroaded into a major responsibility, I started asking a lot of questions about the free cell phone that my employer was offering."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game content is protected by a copyright, so I can't reprint the trivia questions here--but check out the thoughtful and thorough reference book that I got them from: Last Words of Notable People!
A Point Well Made:
Samuel Clemens: "In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind--and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure...”
1. The opposite of RAILROAD is
2. Young teachers often get railroaded into _____
A. indispensable relationships with older mentors.
B. additional responsibilities to which they aren't comfortable saying no.
C. using pre-packaged and foolproof curriculum materials of the highest quality.
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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