island

noun, often attributive
is·​land | \ ˈī-lənd How to pronounce island (audio) \

Definition of island

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a tract of land surrounded by water and smaller than a continent
2 : something resembling an island especially in its isolated or surrounded position: such as
a : a usually raised area within a thoroughfare, parking lot, or driveway used especially to separate or direct traffic
b : a superstructure on the deck of a ship (such as an aircraft carrier)
c : a kitchen counter that is approachable from all sides
3 : an isolated group or area especially : an isolated ethnological group

island

verb
islanded; islanding; islands

Definition of island (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to make into or as if into an island
b : to dot with or as if with islands
2 : isolate

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for island

Synonyms: Noun

isle, islet

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

The words island and isle are etymologically distinct. Island can be traced back to Old English īgland, composed of two elements īg and land. Land, as we might expect means “land,” but īg means “island” in Old English. In a sense, then, īgland is “island-land.” The English isle, on the other hand, is derived through medieval French from the Latin insula. In the 16th century, under the influence of isle, the letter s was added to iland, the earlier form of island. The verb island did not appear until the 17th century.

Examples of island in a Sentence

Noun

He lives on an island in the Caribbean. the island of Hawaii is the largest in the Hawaiian archipelago

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For visitors who want to experience to the island wrapped in authenticity, the months of January and February beckon. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "For Authentic Ibiza, Visit in the Winter," 15 Feb. 2019 The main appeal for Mr. Denton, a financier based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was the short walk to the island’s southern shore. WSJ, "Over 250,000 Votes Later, Hawaii Villa Emerges as the House of the Year," 24 Jan. 2019 For their second day of holiday engagements this week, Prince William and Duchess Kate chartered a Royal Air Force Voyager jet to fly to the Mediterranean island’s RAF Akrotiri base to honor servicemen and women serving overseas around the world. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William and Duchess Kate Bring Holiday Cheer to British Military Serving in Cyprus," 5 Dec. 2018 The Scarlet Lady will be joining the ranks of Seabourn, Norwegian, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, among other lines sailing to the island. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "Virgin Voyages Is Sailing to Cuba in 2020," 1 Nov. 2018 Attendees that made it to the island in the Bahamas where Fyre Festival was scheduled to be held were greeted by chaos, much of which was documented on social media and later turned into Internet memes. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Fyre Festival Founder Billy McFarland Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison," 11 Oct. 2018 Staff members are planning to make trips to the island this week to check on the Shackleford Banks herd. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Florence could trigger 'record' flooding in South Carolina; thousands urged to evacuate," 24 Sep. 2018 Power wasn’t fully restored to the island until this August — nearly a year after the storm hit. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Trump keeps trying to rewrite reality on his Hurricane Maria response," 12 Sep. 2018 During a visit to the island soon after the storm hit, Trump scored few points among residents by flipping rolls of paper towels to survivors. Arelis R. Hernandez And Joel Achenbach, chicagotribune.com, "Failure of imagination hindered federal response to hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The 21 percent that nest on the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean and the Falkland and Tierra del Fuego islands close to South America would find their nesting grounds altered and would have to travel farther to find food and so might relocate. Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "King Penguins Are Endangered by Warmer Seas," 26 Feb. 2018 In the offshore world, wealthy people and corporations use the banking systems of low-tax countries, often island nations in the Caribbean, to shield their assets from taxing authorities in their home countries. David Heinzmann, chicagotribune.com, "Tribune exclusive: Pritzker's secret offshore holdings revealed in Chicago duck boat land deal," 14 Mar. 2018 Critics have said the exemption allowed UBS Group AG to sell funds to island residents that later suffered big losses, wiping out many clients’ life savings. Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Lawmakers Expand Scope of Senate Bank-Deregulation Bill," 7 Mar. 2018 To find out why, researchers set out cameras to record clownfish behaviors near North Solitary and Lord Howe islands along Australia’s east coast. Jennifer Leman, Science | AAAS, "Why some clownfish are boring," 14 Dec. 2017 Authorities were letting residents and business owners to return to Upper Keys islands close to the mainland Tuesday morning, but people from the Lower Keys faced a longer wait. Jennifer Kay And Doug Ferguson, chicagotribune.com, "Florida makes slow moves toward recovery after Hurricane Irma," 12 Sep. 2017 Dr Toomey’s findings stem from his analysis of sediment cores collected near the Dry Tortugas, islands off Florida’s coast. The Economist, "PalaeoclimatologyTraces of old hurricanes show how hard climate science is," 19 Oct. 2017 The island was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain's St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago. Carlisle Jno Baptiste And Danica Coto, chicagotribune.com, "Hurricane Maria aims at Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica," 19 Sep. 2017 Next in the storm's path was St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain's St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago. Bloomberg.com, "Hurricane Maria Slams Dominica, Now Takes Aim At Puerto Rico," 19 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'island.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of island

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for island

Noun

alteration (influenced by Anglo-French isle) of earlier iland, from Middle English, from Old English īgland (akin to Old Norse eyland), from īg island (akin to Old English ēa river, Latin aqua water) + land land

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about island

Statistics for island

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for island

The first known use of island was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for island

island

noun

English Language Learners Definition of island

: an area of land that is surrounded by water
: a raised area within a road, parking lot, or driveway that is used to separate or direct traffic
chiefly US : a separate raised area with a flat surface on which food is prepared in a kitchen

island

noun
is·​land | \ ˈī-lənd How to pronounce island (audio) \

Kids Definition of island

1 : an area of land surrounded by water and smaller than a continent
2 : something like an island in its isolation We have a counter island in our kitchen.

island

noun
is·​land | \ ˈī-lənd How to pronounce island (audio) \

Medical Definition of island

: an isolated anatomical structure, tissue, or group of cells

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on island

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with island

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for island

Spanish Central: Translation of island

Nglish: Translation of island for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of island for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about island

Comments on island

What made you want to look up island? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a shady place in a garden or forest

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!