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[ahy-luh nd] /ˈaɪ lənd/
a tract of land completely surrounded by water, and not large enough to be called a continent.
something resembling an island, especially in being isolated or having little or no direct communication with others.
a raised platform with a counter or other work surface on top situated in the middle area of a room, especially a kitchen, so as to permit access from all sides.
a low concrete platform for gasoline pumps at an automotive service station.
a clump of woodland in a prairie.
an isolated hill.
Anatomy. an isolated portion of tissue differing in structure from the surrounding tissue.
Railroads. a platform or building between sets of tracks.
verb (used with object)
to make into an island.
to dot with islands.
to place on an island; isolate.
Origin of island
before 900; Middle English iland, Old English īgland, īland, variant of īegland, equivalent to īeg island (cognate with Old Norse ey) + land land; spelling with -s- by association with isle
Related forms
islandish, islandlike, adjective
islandless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for islands
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Other species of figs are grown upon these islands, but none equal to this.

    The Story of Malta Maturin M. Ballou
  • Of course if the islands were the Indies, the people must be Indians.

    Introductory American History Henry Eldridge Bourne
  • The cities of the main land were compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of the Persian conqueror; but not the islands.

    A Manual of Ancient History A. H. L. (Arnold Hermann Ludwig) Heeren
  • The second of the West India islands to construct a railroad was Jamaica.

    The Railroad Question William Larrabee
  • The soil on the banks of the Yukon and that of the islands probably never thaws far below the surface.

    Golden Alaska Ernest Ingersoll
British Dictionary definitions for islands


plural noun
(NZ) the Islands, the islands of the South Pacific


a mass of land that is surrounded by water and is smaller than a continent
(anatomy) a part, structure, or group of cells distinct in constitution from its immediate surroundings related adjective insular
verb (transitive) (rare)
to cause to become an island
to intersperse with islands
to place on an island; insulate; isolate
Derived Forms
island-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English īgland, from īg island + land; s inserted through influence of isle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for islands



1590s, earlier yland (c.1300), from Old English igland "island," from ieg "island" (from Proto-Germanic *aujo "thing on the water," from PIE *akwa- "water;" see aqua-) + land "land." Spelling modified 15c. by association with similar but unrelated isle. An Old English cognate was ealand "river-land, watered place, meadow by a river." In place names, Old English ieg is often used of "slightly raised dry ground offering settlement sites in areas surrounded by marsh or subject to flooding" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. Related: Islander.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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islands in Medicine

island is·land (ī'lənd)
An isolated tissue or group of cells that is separated from the surrounding tissues by a groove or is marked by a difference in structure or function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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islands in Science
A land mass, especially one smaller than a continent, entirely surrounded by water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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islands in the Bible

(Heb. 'i, "dry land," as opposed to water) occurs in its usual signification (Isa. 42:4, 10, 12, 15, comp. Jer. 47:4), but more frequently simply denotes a maritime region or sea-coast (Isa. 20:6, R.V.," coastland;" 23:2, 6; Jer. 2:10; Ezek. 27:6, 7). (See CHITTIM.) The shores of the Mediterranean are called the "islands of the sea" (Isa. 11:11), or the "isles of the Gentiles" (Gen. 10:5), and sometimes simply "isles" (Ps. 72:10); Ezek. 26:15, 18; 27:3, 35; Dan. 11:18).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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