Confused Words: Aisle vs. Isle
What does each word mean?
The Spellzone dictionary defines aisle as ‘a long narrow passage’. This passage is often ‘between seating areas’ in places like ‘an auditorium’ or ‘a church’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.
Here is aisle used in some example sentences:
- As he walked his daughter down the aisle, the father of the bride shed a tear.
- Please make sure to keep the aisles clear so that people can pass through easily.
- She found the baked beans in the aisle between the pasta and the toiletries.
Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word aisle.
An isle is ‘a small island’. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.
Here is isle used in some example sentences:
- We’re going on a school trip to the Isle of Wight.
- The British Isles are made up of Great Britain, Ireland and over six thousand small islands.
Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists featuring the word isle.
Where does each word come from?
The word aisle dates back to the fourteenth-century ‘ele’ meaning ‘lateral division of a church (usually separated by a row of pillars)’. In Old French, ‘ele’ means ‘wing (of a bird or an army), side of the ship’, and comes from the Latin ‘ala’. ‘Ala’ is related to the Latin ‘axilla’ which comes from the PIE ‘aks’ meaning ‘axis’.
Isle dates back to the late thirteenth-century ‘ile’, from the Latin ‘insula’ meaning ‘island’. While the origin of ‘insula’ is uncertain, some have speculated that it comes from ‘salo’ which means ‘in the sea’ (and is related to the word ‘salt’).
‘Ele’ and ‘ile’ have been confused since the fifteenth century – so if you mix up aisle and isle you’re certainly not the first to do so!
Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?
- Think of the dot on the ‘i’ as an island to help you remember isle begins with an ‘i’.
- Alice ambled across the aisle.
- Isabel invited Ian to the Isle of Man.
Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?
What words do you constantly mix up? Let us know and we’ll cover them in our Commonly Confused Words series.
Have a great week!
Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary
26 Jan 2016
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