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See more synonyms for aisle on Thesaurus.com
  1. a walkway between or along sections of seats in a theater, classroom, or the like.
  2. Architecture.
    1. a longitudinal division of an interior area, as in a church, separated from the main area by an arcade or the like.
    2. any of the longitudinal divisions of a church or the like.
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  1. in the aisles, (of an audience) convulsed with laughter.
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Origin of aisle

1350–1400; alteration (with ai < French aile wing) of earlier isle (with s from isle), ile; replacing Middle English ele < Middle French < Latin āla wing, cognate with axle. See ala
Related formsaisled, adjectiveun·aisled, adjective
Can be confusedaisle I'll isle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for aisle

hallway, lane, avenue, corridor, path, ingress, opening, clearing, alley, walk, course, egress, way, artery, gangway, passage

Examples from the Web for aisle

Contemporary Examples of aisle

Historical Examples of aisle

  • Outside in the aisle stood a man with a silk hat in his hand.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • At this the young men, who now filled the aisle, raised a mighty booing.

    The Burning Spear

    John Galsworthy

  • He took two steps down the aisle, and caught the little figure in his arms.

  • The first Sunday that She smiled at him across the aisle was the beginning.

    The Very Small Person

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • Perhaps it was Uncle Larry She had smiled at all the time, across the aisle.

    The Very Small Person

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

British Dictionary definitions for aisle


  1. a passageway separating seating areas in a theatre, church, etc; gangway
  2. a lateral division in a church flanking the nave or chancel
  3. rolling in the aisles informal (of an audience) overcome with laughter
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Derived Formsaisled, adjectiveaisleless, adjective

Word Origin for aisle

C14 ele (later aile, aisle, through confusion with isle (island)), via Old French from Latin āla wing
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

Word Origin and History for aisle


late 14c., ele, "lateral division of a church (usually separated by a row of pillars), from Old French ele "wing (of a bird or an army), side of a ship" (12c., Modern French aile), from Latin ala, related to axilla "wing, upper arm, armpit; wing of an army," from PIE *aks- "axis" (see axis), via a suffixed form *aks-la-. The root meaning in "turning" connects it with axle and axis.

Confused 15c. with unrelated ile "island" (perhaps from notion of a "detached" part of a church), and so it took an -s- when isle did, c.1700; by 1750 it had acquired an a-, on the model of French cognate aile. The word also was confused with alley, which gave it the sense of "passage between rows of pews or seats" (1731), which was thence extended to railway cars, theaters, etc.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper