verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- 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.
- 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.
Origin of iron
- 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°CSee also steel, cast iron, wrought iron, pig iron Related adjectives: ferric, ferrous Related prefix: ferro-
- (as modifier)iron railings
Word Origin for iron
Old English isærn (with Middle English rhotacism of -s-) "the metal iron; an iron weapon," from Proto-Germanic *isarnan (cf. Old Saxon isarn, Old Norse isarn, Middle Dutch iser, Old High German isarn, German Eisen) "holy metal" or "strong metal" (in contrast to softer bronze) probably an early borrowing of Celt. *isarnon (cf. Old Irish iarn, Welsh haiarn), from PIE *is-(e)ro- "powerful, holy," from PIE *eis "strong" (cf. Sanskrit isirah "vigorous, strong," Greek ieros "strong").
Right so as whil that Iren is hoot men sholden smyte. [Chaucer, c.1386]
Chemical symbol Fe is from the Latin word for the metal, ferrum (see ferro-). Meaning "metal device used to press or smooth clothes" is from 1610s. The adjective is Old English iren, isern. To have (too) many irons in the fire "to be doing too much at once" is from 1540s. Iron lung "artificial respiration tank" is from 1932.
Strike while the iron is hot
Take advantage of favorable circumstances while they last. The image is from a blacksmith's shop; the smith can shape iron only by striking it with his hammer when it is red hot.
strike while the iron is hot
Take advantage of favorable conditions, as in They just made a huge profit, so let's strike while the iron is hot and ask for some money. This adage alludes to the blacksmith's forge. [Late 1300s] Also see make hay while the sun shines.
In addition to the idioms beginning with iron
- iron hand
- iron out
- irons in the fire, too many
- pump iron
- strike while the iron's hot