1. Abbr. Isl. or Is. or I. A landmass, especially one smaller than a continent, entirely surrounded by water.
2. Something resembling an island, especially in being isolated or surrounded, as:
a. An unattached kitchen counter providing easy access from all sides.
b. A raised curbed area, often used to delineate rows of parking spaces or lanes of traffic.
c. The superstructure of a ship, especially an aircraft carrier.
3. Anatomy A cluster of cells differing in structure or function from the cells constituting the surrounding tissue.
tr.v. is·land·ed, is·land·ing, is·lands
To make into or as if into an island; insulate: a secluded mansion, islanded by shrubbery and fences.
[Alteration (influenced by ISLE) of Middle English ilond, from Old English īegland : īg, īeg; see akw-ā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + land, land; see lendh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: It may seem hard to believe, but Latin aqua, "water," is related to island, which originally meant "watery land." Aqua comes almost unchanged from Indo-European *akwā-, "water." *Akwā- became *ahwō- in Germanic by Grimm's Law and other sound changes. To this was built the adjective *ahwjō-, "watery." This then became *awwjō- or *auwi-, which in pre-English became *ēaj-, and finally ēg or īeg in Old English. Island, spelled iland, first appears in Old English in King Alfred's translation of Boethius about AD 888; the spellings igland and ealond appear in contemporary documents. The s in island is due to a mistaken etymology, confusing the etymologically correct English iland with French isle. Isle comes ultimately from Latin īnsula "island," a component of paenīnsula, "almost-island," whence our peninsula.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.