[ ahy-ern ]
See synonyms for: ironironedironingirons on

  1. Chemistry. a ductile, malleable, silver-white metallic element, scarcely known in a pure condition, but much used in its crude or impure carbon-containing forms for making tools, implements, machinery, etc. Symbol: Fe; atomic weight: 55.847; atomic number: 26; specific gravity: 7.86 at 20°C.: Compare cast iron, pig iron, steel, wrought iron.

  2. something hard, strong, rigid, unyielding, or the like: hearts of iron.

  1. an instrument, utensil, weapon, etc., made of iron.

  2. an appliance with a flat metal bottom, used when heated, as by electricity, to press or smooth clothes, linens, etc.

  3. Golf. one of a series of nine iron-headed clubs having progressively sloped-back faces, used for driving or lofting the ball.: Compare wood1 (def. 8).

  4. any of several tools, structural members, etc., of metals other than iron.

  5. the blade of a carpenter's plane.

  6. Slang. a pistol.

  7. a harpoon.

  8. Medicine/Medical. a preparation of iron or containing iron, used chiefly in the treatment of anemia, or as a styptic and astringent.

  9. irons, shackles or fetters: Put him in irons!

  10. a sword.

  1. of, containing, or made of iron: an iron skillet.

  2. resembling iron in firmness, strength, color, etc.: an iron will.

  1. stern; harsh; cruel: the iron reign of a tyrant.

  2. inflexible; unrelenting: Our club's iron rule is to treat everyone like family.

  3. strong; robust; healthy: She lived well into her 90's with a sunny disposition and iron constitution.

  4. holding or binding strongly: The country is in the icy, iron grip of the beast from the east, bitter Siberian winds that have trapped us in winter.

  5. irritating or harsh in tone: an iron voice.

verb (used with object)
  1. to smooth or press with a heated iron, as clothes or linens.

  2. to furnish, mount, or arm with iron.

  1. to shackle or fetter with irons.

  2. Metalworking. to smooth and thin the walls of (an object being deep-drawn).

verb (used without object)
  1. to press clothes, linens, etc., with an iron.

Verb Phrases
  1. iron out,

    • to iron or press (an item of clothing or the like).

    • to remove (wrinkles) from by ironing.

    • to resolve or clear up (difficulties, disagreements, etc.): The problem was ironed out months ago.

Idioms about iron

  1. in irons,

    • Nautical. (of a sailing vessel) unable to maneuver because of the position of the sails with relation to the direction of the wind.

    • Nautical. (of a towing vessel) unable to maneuver because of tension on the towing line.

    • Also into irons. in shackles or fetters.

  2. irons in the fire, matters with which one is immediately concerned; undertakings; projects: He had other irons in the fire, so that one failure would not destroy him.

  1. pump iron, to lift weights as an exercise or in competition.

  2. strike while the iron is hot, to act quickly when an opportunity presents itself.

Origin of iron

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English īren (noun and adjective), perhaps from unattested īsren, metathesized from īsern, variant of īsen; compare Old Saxon, Old High German, Old Norse īsarn, Gothic eisarn, from Germanic īsarnam, perhaps from Celtic; compare Gaulish Ysarno-, Iserno- (in placenames), Old Breton hoiarn, Welsh haearn, Old Irish íarn

Other words from iron

  • i·ron·less, adjective
  • i·ron·like, adjective
  • un·i·roned, adjective
  • well-ironed, adjective

Words Nearby iron Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use iron in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for iron


/ (ˈaɪən) /

    • a malleable ductile silvery-white ferromagnetic metallic element occurring principally in haematite and magnetite. It is widely used for structural and engineering purposes. Symbol: Fe; atomic no: 26; atomic wt: 55.847; valency: 2,3,4, or 6; relative density: 7.874; melting pt: 1538°C; boiling pt: 2862°C: See also steel, cast iron, wrought iron, pig iron Related adjectives: ferric, ferrous Related prefix: ferro-

    • (as modifier): iron railings

  1. any of certain tools or implements made of iron or steel, esp for use when hot: a grappling iron; a soldering iron

  1. an appliance for pressing fabrics using dry heat or steam, esp a small electrically heated device with a handle and a weighted flat bottom

  2. any of various golf clubs with narrow metal heads, numbered from 1 to 9 according to the slant of the face, used esp for approach shots: a No. 6 iron

  3. an informal word for harpoon (def. 1)

  4. US slang a splintlike support for a malformed leg

  5. great hardness, strength, or resolve: a will of iron

  6. astronomy short for iron meteorite

  7. strike while the iron is hot to act at an opportune moment

  1. very hard, immovable, or implacable: iron determination

  2. very strong; extremely robust: an iron constitution

  1. cruel or unyielding: he ruled with an iron hand

  2. an iron fist a cruel and unyielding attitude or approach: See also velvet (def. 6)

  1. to smooth (clothes or fabric) by removing (creases or wrinkles) using a heated iron; press

  2. (tr) to furnish or clothe with iron

  1. (tr) rare to place (a prisoner) in irons

Origin of iron

Old English irēn; related to Old High German īsan, Old Norse jārn; compare Old Irish īarn

Derived forms of iron

  • ironer, noun
  • ironless, adjective
  • ironlike, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for iron


[ īərn ]

  1. A silvery-white, hard metallic element that occurs abundantly in minerals such as hematite, magnetite, pyrite, and ilmenite. It is malleable and ductile, can be magnetized, and rusts readily in moist air. It is used to make steel and other alloys important in construction and manufacturing. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which allows red blood cells to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide through the body. Atomic number 26; atomic weight 55.845; melting point 1,535°C; boiling point 2,750°C; specific gravity 7.874 (at 20°C); valence 2, 3, 4, 6. See Periodic Table. See Note at element.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with iron


In addition to the idioms beginning with iron

  • iron hand
  • iron out
  • irons in the fire, too many

also see:

  • pump iron
  • strike while the iron's hot

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.