n., adj., & v.
n. 1 Chem. a silver-white ductile metallic element occurring naturally as haematite, magnetite, etc., much used for tools and implements, and an essential element in all living organisms. °Symb.: Fe. 2 this as a type of unyieldingness or a symbol of firmness (man of iron; will of iron). 3 a tool or implement made of iron (branding iron; curling iron). 4 a household, now usu. electrical, implement with a flat base which is heated to smooth clothes etc. 5 a golf club with an iron or steel sloping face used for lofting the ball. 6 (usu. in pl.) a fetter (clapped in irons). 7 (usu. in pl.) a stirrup. 8 (often in pl.) an iron support for a malformed leg. 9 a preparation of iron as a tonic or dietary supplement (iron tablets).
adj. 1 made of iron. 2 very robust. 3 unyielding, merciless (iron determination).
v.tr. 1 smooth (clothes etc.) with an iron. 2 furnish or cover with iron. 3 shackle with irons. in irons handcuffed, chained, etc. Iron Age Archaeol. the period following the Bronze Age when iron replaced bronze in the making of implements and weapons. iron-bark any of various eucalyptus trees with a thick solid bark and hard dense timber. iron-bound 1 bound with iron. 2 rigorous; hard and fast. 3 (of a coast) rock-bound. Iron Cross the highest German military decoration for bravery. Iron Curtain a notional barrier to the passage of people and information between the Soviet bloc and the West. iron hand firmness or inflexibility (cf. velvet glove). iron in the fire an undertaking, opportunity, or commitment (usu. in pl.: too many irons in the fire). ironing-board a flat surface usu. on legs and of adjustable height on which clothes etc. are ironed. iron lung a rigid case fitted over a patient's body, used for administering prolonged artificial respiration by means of mechanical pumps. iron maiden hist. an instrument of torture consisting of a coffin-shaped box lined with iron spikes. iron-mould (US -mold) a spot caused by iron-rust or an ink-stain, esp. on fabric. iron-on able to be fixed to the surface of a fabric etc. by ironing. iron out remove or smooth over (difficulties etc.). iron pyrites see PYRITES. iron ration a small emergency supply of food. ironer n. ironing n. (in sense 1 of v.). ironless adj. iron-like adj.
[ OE iren, isern f. Gmc, prob. f. Celt. ]