strike while the iron is hot

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Striking red-hot iron

strike while the iron is hot (third-person singular simple present strikes while the iron is hot, present participle striking while the iron is hot, simple past and past participle struck while the iron is hot)

  1. (metallurgy, blacksmithing, literally) To strike a hot piece of metal, especially iron, with a mallet or other tool before it cools, while it is still hot enough to be shaped.
  2. (idiomatic) To act on an opportunity promptly while favorable conditions exist; to avoid waiting.
    We should strike while the iron is hot and order some immediately, before they change the offer.
    • c. 1620s, Elizabeth Cary [misattributed to Henry Cary], The History Of the most unfortunate Prince King Edward II. [] , London: A.G. and F. P., published 1680, page 41:
      The Gap thus stopp'd, with her Army she marcheth to the Cage that kept those Birds, whose Wings she would be clipping. She knew if she struck not while the Iron was hot, the heat of a popular Faction would quickly sink and lessen.

Usage notes[edit]

  • When expressed in the imperative mood, this term is a well-known saying or proverb:
    Strike while the iron is hot!



See also[edit]


  • Gregory Y. Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, 1996, →ISBN, p. 309.