Aisle vs. isle

An aisle is (1) a passageway separating seating areas; (2) a passageway for people to walk through, such as in a grocery store; or (3) a longitudinal division of an interior area. Aisle is sometimes figurative, especially in politics, where it denotes the imaginary dividing line (based on the real one in the legislative chamber) between parties.

An isle is an island. The word is often used for small islands, but it is not incorrect in reference to big islands (for example, the main islands in the British Isles are big).

The s is silent in each of these homophones. Both are pronounced like the contraction I’ll.

Examples

You can understand why the Obama spin machine would rather suggest there is disarray on the Republican side of the aisle. [Washington Post]

There is nothing vaguely real about this much-visited uncharted desert isle. [Los Angeles Times]

The 787 will have a wider cabin, allowing for wider seats and aisles. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Tatum plays a loyal Roman whose honour gets a drubbing, while Bell plays a “barbarian” from the British Isles. [Montreal Gazette]

As Kim Kardashian gets ready to walk down the aisle with fiancé Kris Humphries, her American football star ex-boyfriend is dating her doppelgänger. [Daily Mail]

The towering presence of the Mt Yeoti volcano watches over Niseko, jewel of Japan’s most northerly isle. [Telegraph]

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