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.
He lives on an island in the Caribbean.
the island of Hawaii is the largest in the Hawaiian archipelago
Recent Examples on the Web
The small island sits just south of Kagushima prefecture, on Japan's main southern island of Kyushu.—Tucker Reals, CBS News, 29 Nov. 2023 In June 2016, Rodrigo Duterte, the former mayor of Davao City, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, easily defeated four other candidates in the country’s presidential election.—Joshua Hammer, The Atlantic, 29 Nov. 2023 The story unfolds as Cora, the daughter of King Momo, introduces the concept of a traditional North American Christmas to the island, only to witness the revellers transforming it into a unique Tropical Christmas.—Callum McLennan, Variety, 29 Nov. 2023 That marks a reversal from years past, when the island had lower or similar death rates compared with the United States as a whole.—Zoeann Murphy, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2023 While Diana’s gravesite, which is located on an island within the Round Oval Lake.—Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 28 Nov. 2023 The island comes alive with the rhythmic sounds and vibrant energy of genres like bouyon, konpa, soca, cadence-lypso, dancehall, and afro beats during the annual festival, which usually features up to 15 major music acts selected by public vote across three days of live performances.—Melissa Noel, Essence, 28 Nov. 2023 Travelers will also not need to pay the fee to visit the area’s smaller islands like Murano, known for its glass, Reuters noted.—Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 27 Nov. 2023 Tokyo and Beijing have long feuded over ownership of unpopulated East China Sea islands and underwater mineral deposits.—Christopher Bodeen, Fortune, 16 Nov. 2023
Want to island hop around French Polynesia, visit Africa's incredible cities, and cruise through Asia without ever switching hotels or repacking your bags?—Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 14 Feb. 2023 Customize it to display the lake or island their choice and watch them fall in love with hosting all over again.—Ni'kesia Pannell, Woman's Day, 14 Sep. 2022 The result has been a reduction in costs and greenhouse gas emissions with the renewable energy of solar and combined heat and power, as well as having a plan in place to island off the traditional power grid in case of any future outages.—Luis D’acosta, Forbes, 24 June 2022 Want to island hop around French Polynesia, visit Africa's incredible cities, and cruise through Asia without ever switching hotels, boarding a flight, or repacking your bags?—Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 3 Jan. 2022 The episode centres around John B.’s (Chase Stokes) flight from his Outer Banks island hometown after he is framed for the murder of Sheriff Peterkin (Adina Porter).—Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, 20 Apr. 2020 While sending children to work in factories isn’t good for them, either, holding up the postwar era as ideal may limit the ability to address the harms that stem from islanding.—Miranda Sachs, Twin Cities, 30 Sep. 2019 For the last few years, Guerra has been studying the eating habits of western gulls that nest on Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands in the Channel Islands archipelago.—Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2019 However, islanding children often reinforces gender, class or racial divides.—Miranda Sachs, Twin Cities, 30 Sep. 2019 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'island.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
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
First Known Use
before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1