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Aisle: A Space for Walking and More


Aisle: A Space for Walking and More

An aisle is a long, narrow space between rows of seats, shelves, or other structures. Aisles can be found in various places, such as airplanes, cinemas, churches, stores, warehouses, theaters, and more. Aisles serve different purposes depending on the context, such as facilitating movement, separating sections, or displaying merchandise.

The word aisle comes from the Latin word āla, meaning “wing”. In architecture, an aisle is a lateral division of a church or a basilica that parallels or encircles the main sections of the structure, such as the nave, choir, or apse . Aisles are usually separated from the nave by columns or an arcade. Aisles around the apse are called ambulatories. Aisles can also refer to the wings of a building.

In politics, the aisle is a metaphor for the divide or division between two political factions or parties. For example, in the United States Congress, the aisle separates the Democrats and the Republicans. To reach across the aisle means to cooperate or compromise with the opposing party.

In popular culture, an aisle is often associated with weddings. To walk down the aisle means to get married. The bride usually walks down the aisle to the altar accompanied by her father or another person. The aisle can be decorated with flowers, candles, or other ornaments to create a festive atmosphere.

Aisle Etymology and Usage

The word aisle has a long and complex history. It can be traced back to the Latin word āla, meaning “wing”. In Middle English, it was borrowed from Anglo-French as ele, eill, ile, or ilde, meaning “lateral division of a church” or “wing of a building”. Some of these forms were assimilated to the word isle, meaning “island”, which also came from Latin. The spelling aisle emerged in early Modern English as a merger of aile and isle.

The word aisle has several meanings and uses in modern English. It can refer to a space for walking between rows of seats, shelves, or other structures. It can also refer to the sections or divisions that are separated by such spaces. For example, an aisle seat is a seat next to an aisle. An aisle can also be used metaphorically to describe the gap or difference between two groups or parties, especially in politics. For example, to cross the aisle means to cooperate with the other side.

Aisle vs. Isle


Aisle Etymology and Usage

A common source of confusion for many English learners and writers is the difference between aisle and isle. These two words are homophones, meaning they sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. As explained above, an aisle is a passageway between rows and seats in a building, or a metaphor for a political divide. An isle, on the other hand, is a synonym for island, meaning a piece of land surrounded by water. For example,

  • The couple walked down the aisle and exchanged their vows.
  • The couple spent their honeymoon on a tropical isle.

To avoid mixing up these two words, remember that an aisle has an I in it, which looks like a person walking between two rows. An isle has an S in it, which looks like a snake swimming in the water around an island.

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