• Island


    • UK IPA: /ˈaɪ̯lənd/

    Alternative forms


    From earlier iland, from Middle English iland, yland, ylond, from Old English īġland, īeġland, ēaland ("island"), from Old English īeġ ("island") (from Proto-Germanic *awiz, *awjō ("island, water, waterland, meadow"), from Proto-Indo-European *akw- ("water")) + land ("land"), equivalent to ea + land. Cognate with Scots iland, yland ("island"), West Frisian eilân ("island"), Saterland Frisian Ailound ("island"), Dutch eiland ("island"), Low German Eiland ("island"), German Eiland ("island"), Danish øland ("island"), Icelandic eyland ("island"). The erroneous insertion of s—a late (16th century) spelling modification—is due to unrelated term isle. Related also to German Aue ("water-meadow"), Latin aqua ("water"). More at ea.

    Full definition of island



    (plural islands)
    1. A contiguous area of land, smaller than a continent, totally surrounded by water.
      • 2002, Gordon L. Rottman, World War 2 Pacific island guideSumatra is the second largest island in the East Indies and the fourth largest in the world covering 182,859 square miles.
    2. An entity surrounded by other entities that are very different from itself.an island of tranquility (a calm place surrounded by a noisy environment)an island of colour on a butterfly's wing
      • 1939, Deseret News, October 27 1939, Roosevelt Reaffirms American NeutralityKing Leopold, speaking in fluent English during his six minute broadcast, said Belgium stood side by side with Holland "an Island of peace in the interests of all"
    3. A superstructure on an aircraft carrier's deck.
    4. (chiefly UK) A traffic island.the island in the middle of a roundabout


    • (land surrounded by water) ait, holm
    • (an entity surrounded by other very different entities) oasis

    Related terms


    1. (transitive) To surround with water; make into an island
      • 1933, Harriet Monroe, Poetry: Volume 42We paused at little river cities along the way and walked upon their bushy dikes, and heard tales of overflows in flood seasons, when four feet or more of water islanded the houses.
    2. (transitive) To set, dot (as if) with islands
    3. (transitive) To isolate


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