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[v. ahy-suh-leyt; n., adj. ahy-suh-lit, -leyt] /v. ˈaɪ səˌleɪt; n., adj. ˈaɪ sə lɪt, -ˌleɪt/
verb (used with object), isolated, isolating.
to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.
Medicine/Medical. to keep (an infected person) from contact with noninfected persons; quarantine.
Chemistry, Bacteriology. to obtain (a substance or microorganism) in an uncombined or pure state.
Electricity. to insulate.
Television. to single out (a person, action, etc.) for a camera closeup.
a person, thing, or group that is set apart or isolated, as for purposes of study.
Psychology. a person, often shy or lacking in social skills, who avoids the company of others and has no friends within a group.
Biology. an inbreeding population that is isolated from similar populations by physiological, behavioral, or geographic barriers.
Also called language isolate. Linguistics. a language with no demonstrable genetic relationship, as Basque.
something that has been isolated, as a by-product in a manufacturing process:
an isolate of soy flour.
isolated; alone.
1800-10; back formation from isolated
Related forms
isolator, noun
reisolate, verb (used with object), reisolated, reisolating.
unisolate, verb (used with object), unisolated, unisolating. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for isolate
  • It would not affect the recipient's ability to isolate the secret strand.
  • As stated above, they administrators only have to isolate and punish one faculty member and the rest shut up.
  • Instrumental variables help to isolate causal relationships.
  • The waters that lap their beaches isolate them from the pipelines and grids that deliver cheaper electricity on the mainland.
  • We could try to isolate her, of course, and then she'd have her own food and water.
  • The scientists did not isolate a virus from a fossil.
  • One step is to isolate a nation and demonize its leaders.
  • The new isolate may also encode a few novel gene products whose function is, as yet, unknown.
  • The dense early morning fog and dusk light isolate this beautiful oak tree creating a mysterious mood.
  • Had a smart grid been in place, it might have helped isolate the outage and prevent it from spreading.
British Dictionary definitions for isolate


verb (transitive) (ˈaɪsəˌleɪt)
to place apart; cause to be alone
(med) to quarantine (a person or animal) having or suspected of having a contagious disease
to obtain (a compound) in an uncombined form
to obtain pure cultures of (bacteria, esp those causing a particular disease)
(electronics) to prevent interaction between (circuits, components, etc); insulate
noun (ˈaɪsəlɪt)
an isolated person or group
Derived Forms
isolable, adjective
isolability, noun
isolator, noun
Word Origin
C19: back formation from isolated, via Italian from Latin insulātus, literally: made into an island; see insulate
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 isolate

by 1786, a new formation from isolated (q.v.).

The translation of this work is well performed, excepting that fault from which few translations are wholly exempt, and which is daily tending to corrupt our language, the adoption of French expressions. We have here evasion for escape, twice or more times repeated; brigands very frequently; we have the unnecessary and foolish word isolate; and, if we mistake not, paralize, which at least has crept in through a similar channel. Translators cannot be too careful on this point, as it is a temptation to which they are constantly exposed. ["The British Critic," April 1799]
As a noun from 1890, from earlier adjectival use (1819).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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isolate in Medicine

isolate i·so·late (ī'sə-lāt')
v. i·so·lat·ed, i·so·lat·ing, i·so·lates

  1. To set apart or cut off from others.

  2. To place in quarantine.

  3. To separate a pure strain from a mixed bacterial or fungal culture.

  4. To separate or remove a chemical substance out of a combined mixture.

  5. To separate experiences or memories from the emotions relating to them.

n. (-lĭt, -lāt')
A bacterial or fungal strain that has been isolated.
i'so·la'tor n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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