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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
Iron Curtain

in reference to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, famously coined by Winston Churchill March 5, 1946, in speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, but it had been used earlier in this context (for example by U.S. bureaucrat Allen W. Dulles at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 3, 1945). The figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is attested from 1819, and the specific sense of "barrier at the edge of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union" is recorded from 1920. During World War II, Goebbels used it in German (ein eiserner Vorhang) in the same sense. Its popular use in the U.S. dates from Churchill's speech.

iron curtain

n. 1 A barrier made of iron in the theatre, lowered between the stage and the auditorium for safety or to prevent communication. 2 (context idiomatic English) Any impenetrable barrier.

iron curtain

n. an impenetrable barrier to communication or information especially as imposed by rigid censorship and secrecy; used by Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the demarcation between democratic and communist countries

Iron Curtain (musical)

Iron Curtain is a comedy musical about the Soviet Union, with music by Stephen Weiner, lyrics by Peter Mills, and a book by Susan DiLallo.

Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain formed the imaginary boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolized efforts by the Soviet Union to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and non-Soviet-controlled areas. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union. On either side of the Iron Curtain, states developed their own international economic and military alliances:

  • Member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact, with the Soviet Union as the leading state
  • Member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (commonly abbreviated to NATO) and with the United States as the pre-eminent power

Physically, the Iron Curtain took the form of border defenses between the countries of Europe in the middle of the continent. The most notable border was marked by the Berlin Wall and its Checkpoint Charlie, which served as a symbol of the Curtain as a whole.

The events that demolished the Iron Curtain started in discontent in Poland, and continued in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Romania became the only communist state in Europe to overthrow its totalitarian government with violence.

The use of the term iron curtain as a metaphor for strict separation goes back at least as far as the early 19th century. It originally referred to fireproof curtains in theaters. Although its popularity as a Cold War symbol is attributed to its use in a speech Winston Churchill gave in March 1946 in Fulton, Missouri, Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels had already used the term in reference to the Soviet Union.

Iron Curtain (disambiguation)

The Iron Curtain was the symbolic, ideological, and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. Iron Curtain may also refer to:

  • Safety curtains in theatres
  • Iron Curtain (countermeasure) active protection system
  • Iron Curtain (football), the defensive line of Rangers Football Club in the 1940s and 1950s
  • Iron Curtain (musical), a comedy musical about the Soviet Union
  • The Iron Curtain (film), a 1948 movie
  • The Iron Curtain device, a fictional superweapon in the Red Alert series
  • Irumbu Thirai , a 1960 Tamil film
Iron Curtain (countermeasure)

Iron Curtain is an active protection system (APS) designed by Artis, an American technology development and manufacturing firm headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. The system is designed to protect military vehicles and other assets by intercepting threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and rendering them inert.

Iron Curtain (football)

The Iron Curtain was the defensive line of Rangers F.C. during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The normal line-up in the early 1950s consisted of goalkeeper Bobby Brown, full backs George Young and Jock Shaw, centre half Willie Woodburn and wing halves Ian McColl and Sammy Cox. These positions refer to the old 3-2-5 formation, where the three defenders would mark the two opposing wingers and centre forward, while the wing-halves dealt with the opposing inside forwards. These direct match-ups meant that Rangers' Iron Curtain had several great confrontations with Hibs' Famous Five forward line of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Willie Ormond.

The lineup in the mid-1940s of Jerry Dawson, Dougie Gray, Shaw, Scot Symon, Young and Cox was also commonly referred to as the Iron Curtain. This was done to the extent that most young people in Scotland would associate the term with Rangers, rather than the geopolitical situation.

Usage examples of "iron curtain".

Anyway, What's certain is that Jennings was contacted within minutes of arriving at the hotel, told what had happened, and left in no doubt as to what lay in store for his wife and son if he didn't immediately follow them behind the iron curtain.

I explained by tapping the iron curtain over the shop window with one drumstick.

Political obstacles, the so-called Iron Curtain, forbade me to flee eastward.

When you think about it, Sean, it must be terrible for defenceless people behind the Iron Curtain to be subjected to such naked terror with no way for them to fight back.

From what I heard later, Georgiadou, under his respectable merchant trading cloak in Adderley Street, was the biggest rogue south of the Congo in organising the smuggling of uncut diamonds from South West Africa, Sierra Leone and West Africa through Tangier mainly to Iron Curtain countries.

If they were in anything that had the speed of an average airliner, they would have needed only another half hour's flying to cross the Iron Curtain.

Among the matters of interest are inevi-tably any emotional or social involvement with personnel from behind the Iron Curtain-or anywhere else, for that matter.