Isle or Aisle – Usage, Difference & Meaning

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Was Tom Hanks stranded on a desert isle or aisle? Good question! I see these two words get mixed up in writing all the time! Since they’re homophones, they sound the same, so you’ll only notice the difference when reading them. If you’ve ever been stumped about these terms, I’m about to explain everything you need to know to remember the difference.

Difference Between Aisle and Isle

Isle or Aisle Usage Difference Meaning

So, the biggest difference between the nouns “aisle” and “isle” is their meanings. The word “aisle” means a passageway between rows of seats or shelves, usually found in stores or some kind of theaters.

You might see the word aisle used figuratively in a political context to talk about the division between certain politics, like saying the aisle between liberals and republicans has never been wider.

With “isle,” it’s a shortened version of “island,” a small piece of land surrounded by water on all sides. So, Tom Hanks was stranded on a desert isle.

How Do You Spell Aisle?

If you’re talking about the traffic lane between seats and shelves, then it’s a-i-s-l-e. But if you need to spell the other version of island, it’s i-s-l-e.

Both are pronounced just as you’d say the contraction “I’ll,” by the way.

Is It Shopping Aisle in a Store or Isle?

The correct term for the space you walk up and down in a store is “aisle.” Since “isle” is an island, saying shopping isle would be totally wrong.

Is It a Wedding Isle or Aisle?

With weddings, the long and narrow area that the wedding party walks down in order to get to the altar is called an aisle.

Origin of the Word Isle

The noun “isle” derives from the Old French word “ile,” which can be traced back to the Latin word “insula.” Either way, it’s always meant “island.”

Origin of the Word Aisle

The similar-sounding noun “aisle” gets its roots from an Old French word “ele” from the 14th century. Back then, it meant “wing” or “side.” The Old French term evolved from the Latin word “ala,” which also means “wing.” Eventually, it turned into “aisle” and came to mean “area alongside or through,” which is the version we use today.

Aisle Examples in a Sentence

Isle or Aisle Usage Difference Meaning 1
  • Our store manager asked me to restock the shelves in aisle 5.
  • Our guests were asked to remain seated until I walked down the aisle at my wedding.
  • The airplane’s aisle was so narrow. I hated sitting in an aisle seat because people constantly bumped my elbow. I wish they had wider seats. 
  • I browsed the book aisle at the grocery store since our tiny town doesn’t have a real bookstore.
  • Kim Kardashian has walked down the aisle more times than I can count. 
  • The theater’s aisles were lined with plush red carpeting that was sticky and crunchy.

Examples of Isle in a Sentence

  • One remote isle was a popular destination for tourists from all around the world.
  • I watched the news, and they said the shipwreck survivors found refuge on a small, uninhabited isle.
  • I just knew the tropical isle was full of lush vegetation and exotic wildlife.
  • The British Isles consist of numerous islands, including Great Britain and Ireland.
  • Did you know there’s a legend that tells of a hidden treasure buried on a mysterious isle?

Walk Down an Aisle, Visit an Isle

Now, do you see how mixing up these two words can make a sentence completely incorrect? Sure, they sound the same and are even spelled pretty similarly, but their meanings are so different. Remember my tips on correct word choice the next time you’re questioning it: an isle is an island, and both start with the letter I. An aisle is a passageway for people to walk down in stores and around seating.

Comments are closed.