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I·ran (ĭ-răn, ĭ-rän, ī-răn) Formerly Per·sia (pûrzhə, -shə)
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A country of southwest Asia. Inhabited since c. 2000 BC by Iranian peoples, the region later became the core of the Persian Empire. After being conquered by Alexander the Great and ruled by the Parthian Arsacid dynasty, Persia was reestablished under the Sassanian dynasty (AD 224-651) and, after invasions by Arabs (7th century), Turks (10th century), and Mongols (13th century), was reestablished again under the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736). The country, renamed Iran in 1935, was ruled by the Pahlavi dynasty from 1925 until the ouster of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1979) in a revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who established an Islamic republic. Tehran is the capital and the largest city.

Usage Note: As foreign locales become more familiar to English speakers, the pronunciation of their names often evolves away from a literal rendering of their English spelling and toward their native pronunciation, though with considerable variation across names and speakers. Prague once rhymed with plague but now is closer to bog, while Chile may be pronounced either as "chilly" or "chee-lay," and Brazil is still Anglicized (brə-zĭl) rather than Portuguese (brä-sēl). In American English today, we find three common pronunciations for Iran: (ĭ-rän, ĭ-răn, and ī-răn), with analogous variants for Iraq. In our 2014 Usage Ballot, most Panelists personally preferred (ĭ-rän), but a large majority considered both (ĭ-rän) and (ĭ-răn) acceptable. The same was true for Iraq. Panelists were much less tolerant of the pronunciation of the initial syllable as "eye" (some commented that this pronunciation seemed "unsophisticated" or "parochial"): 71% deemed (ī-răn) unacceptable, with only 6% reporting it as their preferred pronunciation, with similar percentages for Iraq.
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Iran

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    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.

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