island

noun, often attributive
is·​land | \ˈī-lənd \

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

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Synonyms for island

Synonyms: Noun

isle, islet

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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 most of us, though, the 800 islands in a stretch of the Andaman Sea off Myanmar’s southern coast barely feature on a map, let alone our list of places to go for Spring Break. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Allure of Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago," 19 Nov. 2018 Other figurative drawings, as old as 35,000 years, have turned up on the nearby island of Sulawesi, alongside hand stencils dating back to 40,000 years ago. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The world’s oldest figurative drawing depicts a wounded animal," 9 Nov. 2018 This lasted for a minute or so, before all players were transported back to the Fortnite island, which featured a brand-new location. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Fortnite’s mysterious cube is gone, leaving behind a brand new location," 4 Nov. 2018 The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Abel Tasman National Park on the South island, where they were greeted by the Manawhenua ki Mohua people with traditional songs, prayers, and nose kisses. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Already Has the Sweetest Nickname for His and Meghan Markle's Baby," 29 Oct. 2018 January 3, 2016: Justin and Hailey spent the New Year's weekend vacationing around the Caribbean islands, and the pics indicate these long-time friends took their relationship to the next level! Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin's Relationship," 24 July 2018 Ten Years Taiwan kicks off on Lanyu, a small, windswept and underpopulated island off the eastern coast of Taiwan. Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Ten Years Taiwan': Film Review," 13 July 2018 First, the country’s home to some of the world’s most scenic beaches and islands, along the Adriatic coast. Sean Gregory, Time, "32 Teams Entered, 2 Remain. Your Ultimate Guide to the World Cup Final," 13 July 2018 To aid those islands, FEMA had depleted its Puerto Rico warehouse, the report says. Frances Robles, New York Times, "FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says," 12 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.

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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

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Statistics for island

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for island

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

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More Definitions for island

island

noun
is·​land | \ˈī-lənd \

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 \

Medical Definition of island 

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

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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

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