Iran derives directly from
Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at
Rustam Relief, with the accompanying
Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the
Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of
gentilic nouns ēr- (Middle Persian) and ary- (Parthian), both deriving from
Proto-Iranian *arya- (meaning "
Aryan", i.e. "of the Iranians"),
 recognized as a derivative of
Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "(skillfully) assembler".
 In the
Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the
[b] and remains also in other Iranian ethnic names
Ossetian: Ир Ir) and
Historically, Iran has been referred to as Persia by
the West, due mainly to the writings of
Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís (
Ancient Greek: Περσίς; from
Old Persian 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿 Pārsa),
 meaning "land of the
Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran that is today defined as
 As the most extensive interactions the
Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted, even long after the Persian rule in
Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran. As
The New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in
Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year,
Nowruz, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and Professor
Ehsan Yarshater, editor of
Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably.
 Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceable in official state contexts.
Historical and cultural usage of the word Iran is not restricted to the modern state proper.
Greater Iran" (Irānzamīn or Irān e Bozorg)
 refers to territories of the Iranian cultural and linguistic zones. In addition to modern Iran, it includes portions of the
The Persian pronunciation of Iran is
[ʔiːˈɾɒːn]. Common English pronunciations of Iran are listed in the
Oxford English Dictionary as / and
Merriam-Webster's online dictionary as
/i-ˈrän, -ˈran; ī-ˈran/,
 and in
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as
/i-ran', i-rän', ī-ran'/. The
Cambridge Dictionary lists / as the British pronunciation and / as the American pronunciation. The
Collins English Dictionary lists the pronunciation solely as /, and the pronunciation guide from the
Voice of America provides "ih-RAHN".
The English pronunciation / ("eye-RANN") is sometimes heard in U.S. media. According to an article published by
The Washington Post,
 the correct pronunciation of Iran is "ee-RON", while "EYE-ran" is listed as the incorrect pronunciation.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, in the dictionary's 2014 Usage Ballot, addressed the topic of the pronunciations of Iran and Iraq.
 According to this study, the pronunciations "ih-RAHN" and "ih-RANN" were almost equally acceptable, while "ih-RAHN" was preferred by most panelists participating in the ballot. With regard to the "eye-RANN" pronunciation, however, more than 70% of the panelists deemed it unacceptable. Among the reasons given by those panelists were that "eye-RANN" has "hawkish connotations" and sounds "angrier", "xenophobic", "ignorant", and "not...cosmopolitan".