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Isle vs. Island: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 5, 2023
An isle is a small island or peninsula, while an island is a body of land surrounded by water, irrespective of size.

Key Differences

Isle and Island both refer to landforms surrounded by water. The term Isle is often used to denote smaller islands or even peninsulas. Conversely, Island is a general term that encompasses any body of land, big or small, that’s surrounded by water.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023
Isle has a more poetic or formal connotation and is often found in literature, poetry, or place names. Island, being a broader term, is commonly used in everyday language and scientific contexts to refer to any insular landform.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023
Geographically speaking, there's no strict size limit that separates an Isle from an Island. However, the term Isle might be preferred for tinier landforms to evoke a sense of quaintness or charm. On the other hand, Island does not carry any such nuance and is neutral.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023
In literature, an Isle can symbolize isolation, paradise, or even mystery due to its smaller, remote nature. Island can convey similar meanings but without the inherent implication of size.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023
Ultimately, while both Isle and Island point to land surrounded by water, Isle is typically reserved for smaller landforms or carries a formal or poetic nuance, whereas Island is a more general term.
Janet White
Oct 05, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Size Implication

Often denotes smaller landforms
Neutral, any size
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Usage Context

Poetic, formal, place names
Everyday language, scientific contexts
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Meaning

Small island or peninsula
Body of land surrounded by water
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Connotation

Can imply quaintness or charm
Neutral
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Literary Symbolism

Might symbolize isolation, paradise, mystery
Can convey similar meanings, no size nuance
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023
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Isle and Island Definitions

Isle

A small island.
The tiny isle was a haven for rare birds.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 05, 2023

Island

A place of isolation or detachment.
He lives on an island of his own making.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Isle

A piece of land surrounded by water, especially in literature.
Tales of a mysterious isle filled their evenings.
Janet White
Oct 05, 2023

Island

A landmass, smaller than a continent, surrounded by water.
Hawaii is an island chain in the Pacific.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Isle

A poetic term for island.
The isle of beauty lay shimmering in the distance.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 05, 2023

Island

A zone or area that is different from its surroundings.
An island of calm in a sea of chaos.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Isle

A peninsula or similar landform.
The isle extended into the turquoise waters.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

Island

Any body of land, irrespective of size, surrounded by water.
Australia is the world’s largest island by land area.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Isle

An island, especially a small one.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

Abbr. Isl. or Is. or I. A landmass, especially one smaller than a continent, entirely surrounded by water.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

A (small) island, compare with islet.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

An unattached kitchen counter providing easy access from all sides.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

See Aisle.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A raised curbed area, often used to delineate rows of parking spaces or lanes of traffic.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

An island.
Imperial rule of all the seagirt isles.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

The superstructure of a ship, especially an aircraft carrier.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

A spot within another of a different color, as upon the wings of some insects.
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Dec 11, 2022

Island

(Anatomy) A cluster of cells differing in structure or function from the cells constituting the surrounding tissue.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

To cause to become an island, or like an island; to surround or encompass; to island.
Isled in sudden seas of light.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

To make into or as if into an island; insulate
A secluded mansion, islanded by shrubbery and fences.
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Dec 11, 2022

Isle

A small island
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A contiguous area of land, smaller than a continent, totally surrounded by water.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Isle

Often used in place names.
The British Isles are steeped in history.
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

Island

(by extension, in place names) A contiguous area of land, smaller than a continent, partially surrounded by water; A peninsula; A half-island.
Despite its name, Barry Island is actually a peninsula
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

An entity surrounded by other entities that are very different from itself.
An island of colors on a butterfly's wing
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A superstructure on an aircraft carrier's deck.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A traffic island.
The island in the middle of a roundabout
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(by extension, West Midlands dialect) A roundabout; A traffic circle.
Dunton island, near Birmingham, is one of the most confusingly labelled islands in the U.K.
In Coventry, you will often hear people say: “Turn right at the island”.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A bench, counter, etc., that is not connected to a wall or other furniture and which can be used from any side.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(government) An unincorporated area wholly surrounded by one or more incorporated areas.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(grammar) A phrase from which a wh-word cannot be extracted without yielding invalid grammar.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(transitive) To surround with water; make into an island.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(transitive) To set, dot (as if) with islands.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

(transitive) To isolate.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A tract of land surrounded by water, and smaller than a continent. Cf. Continent.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

Anything regarded as resembling an island; as, an island of ice.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

To cause to become or to resemble an island; to make an island or islands of; to isle.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

To furnish with an island or with islands; as, to island the deep.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A land mass (smaller than a continent) that is surrounded by water
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A zone or area resembling an island
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 11, 2022

Island

A thing resembling an island, especially in being isolated or detached.
A traffic island.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

FAQs

Can any land surrounded by water be called an island?

Yes, an "Island" is any body of land surrounded by water, regardless of size.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Can "Island" imply isolation?

Yes, "Island" can symbolize isolation, detachment, or even independence.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

How does geography define an isle?

Geographically, there's no strict size limit differentiating an isle from an island.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Are all isles islands?

Yes, all isles are islands, but not all islands are necessarily referred to as isles.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

Do the British Isles include both isles and islands?

Yes, the term "British Isles" encompasses both larger islands and smaller isles.
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

Is "Isle" a modern term?

"Isle" is older and often seen in classical literature or place names.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

Does "Isle" only refer to natural landforms?

While usually referring to natural landforms, "Isle" can also denote peninsulas or similar features.
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

What's the etymology of "Island"?

"Island" derives from Old English "īegland", composed of "īeg" (island) and "land" (land).
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Is an isle always smaller than an island?

Not strictly. "Isle" often denotes smaller landforms, but not always.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Can an "Isle" be part of a larger "Island"?

Yes, an "Isle" can be a smaller landform that's part of a bigger "Island."
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

Is "Isle" a formal term?

"Isle" has a more poetic or formal connotation, often used in literature or place names.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

How is "Isle" used in literature?

"Isle" in literature can symbolize paradise, isolation, or mystery.
Janet White
Oct 05, 2023

Can "Isle" be used metaphorically?

Yes, "Isle" can be used metaphorically to denote isolation or a sanctuary.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

Are the terms interchangeable?

While related, they aren't always interchangeable. "Isle" often has a size or poetic nuance.
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

Can "Island" denote areas in a city?

Yes, terms like "traffic island" refer to raised areas in roads.
Sara Rehman
Oct 05, 2023

Which term is more commonly used in everyday speech?

"Island" is more commonly used in everyday language.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Is an atoll an island?

Yes, an atoll is a type of island, specifically a ring-shaped coral reef enclosing a lagoon.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 05, 2023

Does "Island" have any non-geographical meanings?

Yes, it can denote isolation or areas distinct from their surroundings.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 05, 2023

Which term is older, "Isle" or "Island"?

Both have ancient roots, but "Isle" comes from Latin "insula", while "Island" is of Old English origin.
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023

Are islands always landforms?

Primarily, but "Island" can also denote zones different from surroundings, like a "traffic island."
Harlon Moss
Oct 05, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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