General English


  • noun a metallic element that is essential to biological life and is an essential part of human diet. Iron is found in liver, eggs, etc.

Cars & Driving

  • noun the most common metallic element, used for making steel


  • A lustrous, malleable, magnetic, magnetizable, metallic element mined from the earth's crust as ore in hematite, magnetite, and lemonite. These minerals are heated together to 3,000°F in a blast furnace to produce pig iron, which emerges from the furnace as 95% iron, 4% carbon, and 1% other elements.


  • A trace element vital for many body processes especially formation of haemoglobin in the blood. Available in meat, offal, fish, cereals, pulses and vegetables. vitamin C ingested at the same time as iron-containing foods facilitates absorption in the gut.


  • noun a chemical element essential to the body, present in foods such as liver and eggs


  • noun a pistol or revolver. A slang term of the 19th and early 20th centuries (short for the American ‘shooting iron’) which survives in the pages of westerns and crime fiction. Iron was revived in the 1990s by members of US street gangs.


  • noun an electric household instrument for smoothing the creases from clothes


  • chemical symbolFe

Origin & History of “iron”

Iron is probably a Celtic contribution to English, but the borrowing took place in the prehistoric period, before the Germanic dialects separated, and so English shares the word with German (eisen), Dutch (ijzen), Swedish (järn), etc. The prehistoric Celtic form from which these all ultimately came was *īsarnon, which some have linked with Latin aes ‘bronze’ and Sanskrit isira- ‘strong’. The ancient Indo-European peoples had already split up into groups speaking mutually unintelligible tongues by the time iron came into general use, so there was never any common Indo-European term for it.