From the derailment of a locomotive
- (idiomatic) In an abnormal manner, especially in a manner that causes damage or malfunctioning
- (idiomatic) Insane.
- (idiomatic) Off the intended path.
2009 Jul 13, Ed Bentley, “Lenin 1, Tsar Nicholas 0 – but Sheremetyevo-3”, Moscow News:
- ... but the plan came off the rails when infuriated Communists called it "ideological provocation" and warned against "kindling political confrontation
- (idiomatic) Out of control.
2009 Jul 10, Jenny Johnston, “You won't catch us going to rehab: So have the young stars of Harry Potter turned into superbrats?”, Daily Mail:
- I reckon it's pretty astonishing that none of us did go off the rails. There really was no telling how any of us would deal with the pressures and the fame.
- Most commonly used with the verb "to go", but also with forms of "to be", "to come" and others.