Definition of train in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /trān/


1 [with object] Teach (a person or animal) a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time: the plan trains people for promotion [with object and infinitive]: the dogs are trained to sniff out illegal stowaways
More example sentences
  • My mother was well trained in housekeeping skills.
  • Under the project, women are trained in business skills, accounting, marketing and forging links with commercial banks.
  • Security staff were trained in effective communication skills.
instruct, teach, coach, tutor, school, educate, prime, drill, ground;
inculcate, indoctrinate, initiate, break in;
1.1 [no object] Be taught through practice and instruction: he trained as a classicist
More example sentences
  • Canada, his native land, the UK where he trained and taught, and the United States all owe much to this sophisticated thinker.
  • Everybody who trains takes lay-offs at one time or another.
study, learn, prepare, take instruction;
1.2 (usually as adjective trained) Cause (a mental or physical faculty) to be sharp, discerning, or developed as a result of instruction or practice: an alert mind and trained eye give astute evaluations
More example sentences
  • Thus it is in daily life, one's mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility; and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.
  • The three people gathered around the monolith had come to this conclusion, not only by use of their highly trained intellects, but also by dint of reading the small label on the back.
  • Cartier-Bresson gave it his eye and mind trained by the cubist painter Andre Lhote, and his experience as a hunter in Africa.
1.3Cause (a plant) to grow in a particular direction or into a required shape: they trained roses over their houses
More example sentences
  • Not only that, when you train the shrub to grow into a single stem tree, you can end up with some very interesting plants.
  • Young trees are generally trained to an open centre or vase shape as this allows even ripening of fruit and good air circulation, which helps prevent disease.
  • Standards are plants that have been trained to grow in a tree-like form.
1.4 [no object] Undertake a course of exercise and diet in order to reach or maintain a high level of physical fitness, typically in preparation for participating in a specific sport or event: she trains three times a week
More example sentences
  • They train, reach a peak of physical fitness and then, one day, for no obvious reason, they're unable to perform properly.
  • When professional rugby union began, there were still many genuine amateurs, most notably in the heartland Olympic sports, who trained harder.
  • Sport is about competing to see who is the best and athletes have to train hard to reach the top.
exercise, do exercises, work out, get into shape, practice, prepare
1.5Cause to undertake a course of physical exercise: the horse was trained in Paris
More example sentences
  • Was there a sense that someone might have a stable of gladiators that he's trained up in order to go into contest?
  • The philosophy is it's easier to train an athlete to perform pit stops than it is to turn a mechanic into a top-tier athlete.
  • Players are trained to dive and manipulate refs to get decisions there way.
1.6 [no object] (train down) Reduce one’s weight through diet and exercise in order to be fit for a particular event: he trained down to middleweight
More example sentences
  • He trains down to make the 175 limit for his ‘defenses‘but comes into the ring in the 180s.
  • I was a Big Ten wrestling champion at the University of Chicago and I had to train down, so I know it pretty well.
  • Anyway, they inspire indolent ladies to train down and to diet and do sundry other things in the pursuit of slenderness.
2 [with object] (train something on) Point or aim something, typically a gun or camera, at: the detective trained his gun on the side door
More example sentences
  • For instance, when an area is hit by natural disaster, the cameramen will quickly train their cameras on local leaders who give directions regarding the rescue and relief efforts.
  • As a journalist, Khan was used to training the camera on others.
  • In an excellent piece of journalism, the camera crew just trained their camera on the serviceman, as he stood on the beach, tears running down his cheeks.
aim, point, direct, level, focus;
zero in
3 [no object] dated Go by train: Charles trained to Chicago with Emily
4 [with object] archaic Entice (someone) by offering pleasure or a reward.


1A series of railroad cars moved as a unit by a locomotive or by integral motors: a freight train the journey took two hours by train
More example sentences
  • On Sunday and Monday the railway will run additional trains using locomotives and coaches shown in the film, including the Green Dragon No.957.
  • There has also been a considerable investment in commuter trains and light railway rapid-transit systems to ease congestion on roads and pollution.
  • In fact, there will be no more locomotives pulling the train because each carriage has its own engine.
locomotive, subway, monorail
informal iron horse
baby talk choo choo
2A succession of vehicles or pack animals traveling in the same direction: a camel train
More example sentences
  • He established guards for his artillery trains and directed that a liaison orderly be sent from each battery to brigade headquarters.
  • No amount of imperial bluster, disciplined armies or powerful artillery trains could impress these hardened tribes.
  • Action must be taken quickly to get smaller off-road vehicles or mule trains ready to distribute food before the snows fall.
procession, line, file, column, convoy, cavalcade, caravan, string, succession, trail
2.1A retinue of attendants accompanying an important person.
Example sentences
  • A man dressed like an aristocrat in silk lead a train of servants out of the jungle and down the beach.
  • At Dalkeith Castle on August 3rd, King James himself, in a crimson velvet jacket, rode in with a train of horsemen.
  • He had quite a train of coolies with him, carrying himself and his baggage through the dense forests.
retinue, entourage, cortège, following, staff, household
2.2A series of connected events: you may be setting in motion a train of events that will cause harm
More example sentences
  • It is his sale of Christ that sets in motion the train of events leading up to the Crucifixion.
  • We cannot know what train of events our actions will set in motion.
  • Again, he chuckled as if this whole train of events was nothing but some outrageous mischief meant to unnerve me.
chain, string, series, sequence, succession, set, course, cycle, concatenation
2.3A series of gears or other connected parts in machinery: a train of gears
More example sentences
  • The engines had twin overhead camshafts which were gear driven via a train of gears coming from the rear of the crankshaft.
  • As our simulations show, a rouleau of flat RBCs behaves quite differently from a train of ellipses of the same size.
  • The authors were able to predict the magnitude of facilitation but not its rate of growth during a train of impulses.
3A long piece of material attached to the back of a formal dress or robe that trails along the ground.
Example sentences
  • Long trains over trousers and grass skirts add another dimension.
  • A formal daytime wedding is when the bride wears a white, ivory or pastel colored floor length gown with a train and a long veil.
  • She screamed and shoved her way out of his hands and down the hallway, her long dress's train trailing behind her.
4A trail of gunpowder for firing an explosive charge.



in train

(Of arrangements) well organized or in progress: an investigation is in train
More example sentences
  • The FA have no fewer than three investigations in train.
  • Such a report puts in train a detailed investigation which may be unnecessary if, as is frequently the case, the incident is not one of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • While the Culchie Competition is restricted to men the women of the area are not being neglected either with plans now in train to select a festival queen.

in someone/something's train (or in the train of)

Following behind someone or something.
Example sentences
  • Few thought to ask, to question the idea that ‘the people’ could be led as always, would follow blindly in the train of materialistic progress to social or cultural ‘progress’.
  • He follows in the train of distinguished Erasmus lecturers, including Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Peter Berger, Paul Johnson, Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, Rabbi David Novak, and Mary Ann Glendon.
  • Carried to Italy (probably in the train of the Borgia popes), it was developed further, the flat bridge of the vihuela being replaced by a free-standing arched bridge, which was glued to the belly like that of a guitar.
2.1As a sequel or consequence: unemployment brings great difficulties in its train
More example sentences
  • This was possible due to the immigration of many Iranians to Bengal in the train of Muslim conquest and in the service of the rulers.

train of thought

The way in which someone reaches a conclusion; a line of reasoning: I failed to follow his train of thought



Pronunciation: /ˌtrānəˈbilitē/
Example sentences
  • Mind you, I understand that babies have the same trainability, plus they can learn cool tricks - takes longer to housebreak 'em though.
  • If you want to do specialized training, consider breeds known for courage and trainability.
  • Research the breeds to find the one with the right size, energy level, trainability and temperament for your lifestyle.


Pronunciation: /ˈtrānəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • As long as there's a trainable pool and as long as organisations are willing to invest in training knowing they'll lose some from time to time, there will never be a skills shortage anywhere.
  • One dog was slightly more trainable, and the other was an idiot.
  • There are numerous easily trainable people directing traffic, delivering summons, keeping guard at fêtes, driving vehicles up and down, and at times making messages for the boss.


Middle English (as a noun in the sense 'delay'): from Old French train (masculine), traine (feminine), from trahiner (verb), from Latin trahere 'pull, draw'. Early noun senses were 'trailing part of a robe' and 'retinue'; the latter gave rise to 'line of traveling people or vehicles', later 'a connected series of things.' The early verb sense 'cause (a plant) to grow in a desired shape' was the basis of the sense 'educate, instruct, teach'.

  • Before railways were invented in the early 19th century, train followed a different track. Early senses included ‘a trailing part of a robe’ and ‘a retinue’, which gave rise to ‘a line of travelling people or vehicles’, and later ‘a connected series of things’, as in train of thought. To train could mean ‘to cause a plant to grow in a desired shape’, which was the basis of the sense ‘to instruct’. The word is from Latin trahere ‘to pull, draw’, and so is related to word such as trace (Middle English) originally a path someone is drawn along, trail (Middle English) originally in the sense ‘to tow’, tractor (late 18th century) ‘something that pulls', contract (Middle English) ‘draw together’, and extract (Late Middle English) ‘draw out’. Boys in particular have practised the hobby of trainspotting under that name since the late 1950s. Others ridicule this hobby and in Britain in the 1980s trainspotter, like anorak, became a derogatory term for an obsessive follower of any minority interest. Irvine Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting gave a high profile to the term. The title refers to an episode in which two heroin addicts go to a disused railway station in Edinburgh and meet an old drunk in a disused railway station who asks them if they are trainspotting. There are also other overtones from the language of drugs—track is an addicts' term for a vein, mainlining [1930s] for injecting a drug intravenously, and train for a drug dealer. Trainers were originally training shoes, soft shoes without spikes or studs worn by athletes or sports players for training rather than the sport itself. The short form began to replace the longer one in the late 1970s.

Words that rhyme with train

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: train

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.