1. Symbol Fe A silvery-white, lustrous, malleable, ductile, magnetic or magnetizable, metallic element occurring abundantly in combined forms, notably in hematite, limonite, magnetite, and taconite, and used alloyed in a wide range of important structural materials. Atomic number 26; atomic weight 55.845; melting point 1,538°C; boiling point 2,861°C; specific gravity 7.874 (at 20°C); valence 2, 3, 4, 6. See Periodic Table.
2. An implement made of iron alloy or similar metal, especially a bar heated for use in branding, curling hair, or cauterizing.
3. Great hardness or strength; firmness: a will of iron.
4. Sports Any of a series of golf clubs having a bladelike metal head and numbered from one to nine in order of increasing loft.
5. A metal appliance with a handle and a weighted flat bottom, used when heated to press wrinkles from fabric.
6. A harpoon.
7. irons Fetters; shackles.
8. A tonic, pill, or other medication containing iron and taken as a dietary supplement.
1. Made of or containing iron: iron bars; an iron alloy.
2. Strong, healthy, and capable of great endurance: an iron constitution.
3. Inflexible; unyielding: iron resolve.
4. Holding tightly; very firm: has an iron grip.
v. i·roned, i·ron·ing, i·rons
a. To press and smooth with a heated iron: iron clothes.
b. To remove (creases) by pressing.
2. To put into irons; fetter.
3. To fit or clad with iron.
To iron clothes.
To settle through discussion or compromise; work out.
in irons Nautical
Lying head to the wind without steerageway and thus unable to turn either way.
iron in the fire
An undertaking or project in progress: has many irons in the fire this year.
[Middle English iren, from Old English īren; see eis- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.