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Isle vs. Aisle – How to Pick the Correct Word

Isle vs. Aisle – How to Pick the Correct Word

This article deals with a pair of English homophones, which are words with different spellings and meanings but identical pronunciations.

Neither aisle nor isle is spelled as it sounds, since both have a silent “S.” This makes the words a bit confusing in the first place. Add on top of this that despite their different spellings, they sound the same as each other.

Fortunately, however, this article clearly outlines how to use aisle or isle properly.

Short and Sweet: Aisle vs. Isle

Aisle and isle are both nouns.

  • An aisle is a walkway between two areas, such as rows of seats or sets of shelving.
  • An isle is an island.

Read on for more in depth definitions of these nouns, as well as example sentences and a simple trick for remembering whether to use isle or aisle in your writing.

What Does Aisle Mean?

Meaning of Aisle: The “AI” vowel pairing does not usually make the long “I” sound in English, but it does in aisle. The “A” comes from French “aile” and Latin “ala,” both meaning “wing.”

In English, aisle is a noun meaning a path or walkway separating two sections of rows of seats or shelving.

  • The flower girl walks down the aisle first to throw petals for the bride.
  • The aisles on airplanes are too narrow, making it hard to not hit seated passengers with your bags.
  • At the grocery store, you can usually find chocolate chips in the aisle with the baking stuff.
  • Pedestrians in the warehouse aisles need to be careful and watch out for forklifts!

An aisle is simply a walkway, regardless of where it is located. Most commonly, one finds aisles in churches, airplanes, theatres, and grocery stores to separate pews or rows of seating or shelving. Sometimes there are multiple aisles if the seating area is very wide, like in a large theatre or stadium. Aisles are also the paths in stores between racks or shelves of products and can be found in warehouses between shelves of storage and equipment.

What Does Isle Mean?

Meaning of Isle: Isle is also a noun. It is simply another word for an island, especially a small one. Isle is frequently used in the structure “Isle of ___,” as in “Isle of Wight.” However, isle can also appear at the end in the proper name of an island, as in “Fair Isle.”

  • The Summer Isles are a beautiful place to vacation.
  • This island is sometimes known as The Isle of Love.

There is not much difference between the synonyms isle and island. However, it is more common to use isle as the proper name of a location and island when referring to a nonspecific island.

Isle vs. Aisle: How to Remember the Difference

An isle is an isolated island! 

Aisle differs from isle only by the letter “A.” Remember that in a big area like a theatre or a stadium, an aisle allows you to walk through the middle of the seats, so you don’t have to walk around.

Recap: When to Use Aisle and Isle

An aisle is a walkway between rows or seats or shelves. Aisles are common if churches, theatres, stadiums, etc.

Isle is part of a name of an island.