What does Derail mean?

To shift a conversation away from its original topic

When someone derails a discussion, it means they’re steering the conversation away from the main topic. This is a term that you’ll often hear in the world of online forums and message boards.

Derailing can happen either on purpose, or by accident. When it’s done intentionally, it’s usually a form of trolling. The person derailing the conversation is looking to cause a stir or distract from the original topic.

The term ‘derail’ gets its name from the image of a train going off its tracks and crashing. Just like a derailed train, a derailed conversation is one that’s veered off course.

So, if you ever find yourself in a forum discussion that’s strayed wildly from the original topic, you can say it’s been derailed.

Example for using ‘Derail’ in a conversation

Hey, did you see the new trailer for that movie?

Yes! I can’t wait to watch it. But you know what’s even better?

What’s that?

Cats! I love cats so much. They are just too adorable.