train wreck

See also: trainwreck and train-wreck


Train wreck at Montparnasse Station, Paris, France, 1895.

Alternative formsEdit


train wreck (plural train wrecks)

  1. The aftermath of a train crash.
    Synonyms: (hobo slang) prairie meet, (railroad jargon) cornfield meet
  2. (figuratively) A disaster, especially one which is large in scale and readily seen by public observers.
    Synonyms: catastrophe, car crash, car wreck
    • 1986 September 1, Hugh Sidey, “The Presidency: Colliding with Realities”, in Time[1], archived from the original on 2008-12-21:
      There is a feeling in Washington that we are gathering at the side of the track to watch a gigantic economic train wreck one of these days.
    • 2007, Mel Odom, Blood Evidence, →ISBN, page 168:
      "Your personal life has been, and is, a train wreck."
    • 2009, Matthue Roth, Never Mind The Goldbergs:
      “Hrmm. I see your stylist's been working nights.” He surveyed the train wreck of my hair in the rearview mirror.
  3. (figuratively) Someone (especially a woman) who is unbalanced and considered a mess, a disaster, one who is suffering personal ruin.
    • 2007, Donna Hogan, “blurb”, in Train Wreck: The Life and Death of Anna Nicole Smith, Phoenix Books Incorporated, →ISBN:
      She may have been a train wreck, but she was a train wreck people still can't seem to get enough of. The sordid but fascinating story of her vicious, no-holds-barred battle with life is one of the most gripping, sex-soaked biographies in years.
    • 2016, Sady Doyle, Trainwreck, page 24:
      [] women, by and large, do not like themselves very much: their ambition gaps, their orgasm gaps, their imposter syndrome, [] their trainwrecks, and their need for trainwrecks; the enduring, self-loathing need to find someone about whom they can say well, at least I'm not that girl.

Usage notesEdit

  • In the UK, train crash is preferred for the literal sense, and car crash is more common but not exclusively used for the metaphorical sense.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


train wreck (third-person singular simple present train wrecks, present participle train wrecking, simple past and past participle train wrecked)

  1. To ruin utterly and catastrophically, to cause to end in disaster.
    • 2003, Peter A. Laporta,, Ignite the Passion, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 57:
      [] basic fundamental communication steps must be achieved so not to train wreck the new employee.
    • 2011, Jaden Lane, If You Could Read My Mind, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 157:
      "I want this, too, I want you. Like really want you more than anything I've wanted in a long time. But if you force it, you're going to train wreck the whole thing in a fiery mess over a steep cliff with jagged rocks below."
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:trainwreck.

See alsoEdit


  • train wreck (slang): When the parts in an ensemble "collide" because the musicians are not playing together. Hal Leonard Pocket Music Dictionary, p. 122.
  • Train wreck: in jazz, when everything comes off the rails - someone misses a repeat, skips the bridge, and so on. Dolmetsch Online.

Further readingEdit