So, my husband made what I deem an incredible etymology discovery this weekend. That isle and island are completely unrelated words, from different roots.

Color me baffled.

The world island was originally spelled yland, and appeared in 1590…to replace the Old English igland. This spelling is taken from ieg, a word influenced by Proto-Germanic, which means “thing on the water” LOL.

The spelling changed from yland to island in 1590, however, because of the word isle.

Isle is from the French isle, which in turn traces its roots to the Latin insula. So, the same meaning, but one Latin root and one German, and they sounded the same…hence, I suppose, why ye Older English folk decided to spell them the same too. Thereby confusing the following generations into thinking them indelibly related. 😉

Print Friendly, PDF & Email