tr.v. i·so·lat·ed, i·so·lat·ing, i·so·lates
a. To cause to be alone or apart, as in being inaccessible or unable to move about: The police isolated the area until more help could arrive.
b. To place in quarantine.
c. To cause to become socially or politically unengaged or ostracized: an immigrant who was isolated by his poor language skills.
d. To render free of external influence; insulate: a system of government that isolated its citizens from foreign ideas.
2. To identify or distinguish as a separate entity or group: The study tried to isolate the effects of changing schools on student performance.
a. Chemistry To separate (a substance) in pure form from a combined mixture.
b. Microbiology To separate (a pure strain of a microorganism or virus) from a mixed culture.
4. Psychology To separate (experiences or memories) from the emotions relating to them.
a. To set apart (a component, circuit, or system) from a source of electricity.
b. To insulate or shield.
adj. (-lĭt, -lāt′)
Separated from others: an isolate population.
n. (-lĭt, -lāt′)
1. A person, thing, or group that has been isolated, as by geographic, ecologic, or social barriers.
2. Microbiology A population of microorganisms or viruses that has been isolated.
3. Linguistics A language isolate.
[Back-formation from ISOLATED.]
Synonyms: isolate, insulate, seclude, segregate, sequester
These verbs mean to separate from others: a mountain that isolated the village from larger towns; insulated herself from the chaos surrounding her; a celebrity who was secluded from public scrutiny; segregated the infectious patients in a special ward; sequestering a jury during its deliberations.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.