Example sentence:

When the subway train __ , I wasn't clutching a grab handle, so I almost fell to the floor.

What's the verb to describe a train/subway train "taking off"?


depart is probably the best word to describe a train leaving a station, but in this context you are probably more interested in the fact that the train started moving, because this is more important to the story (which is about nearly falling over) than the fact that the train was leaving a station.

Note that clutching suggests a very tight, or even desparate, grip... for example in the expression

A drowning man will clutch at a straw

Simply holding would be better in this context.

  • +1 Started Moving is the correct phrase for this particular example. In general, trains roll. – Peter Jun 11 '18 at 5:55
  • @Peter: rolled in relation to trains may be more widely used in the US (think Frankie Laine's Rawhide) than in the UK. books.google.com/ngrams/… – JavaLatte Jun 11 '18 at 6:59
  • In the context of the OP's sentence, you can also use "set into motion". – Mr Lister Jun 11 '18 at 7:12
  • I disagree. Planes and boats also depart. Planes depart an airport and boats depart a pier/dock. The requested comparison asks for an action specific to trains. – EllieK Jun 11 '18 at 17:39
  • 1
    @JavaLatte The question title is specific enough without the word "specific". – Mr Lister Jun 12 '18 at 6:12

A train pulls away from the station.

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    That is exactly what trains do! – EllieK Jun 11 '18 at 17:41
  • The phrase is well enough understood that one can drop "from the station." It is implied. This results in a usage such as, "I had to run to make the train, boarding just as it was pulling away." No mention of the station is necessary for understanding. – EllieK Jun 12 '18 at 12:44

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