February 19, 2013
insular (adjective)
\IN-suh-ler\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : being isolated or detached2 : not open to new or different ideas : narrow
How do you use it?
She grew up in a sparsely populated area in the country and, because of her insular situation, was not used to the noise and commotion of the city.
Are you a word wiz?

"Insular" has an earlier meaning than the two we list above. What is the original meaning of our word "insular"?

"Insular" comes from the Latin word for "island" and was first used to refer to things that had to do with islands (as in, "an insular bird species not seen on the mainland"). The fact that islands are removed from the mainland and surrounded by water gave rise to the sense "being isolated or detached." This sense was used not only of things ("an insular country home"), but of people ("lived an insular life"). It eventually gave us the most recent meaning of "insular": "not open to new or different ideas," as in "a petty, insular woman who disliked anything unfamiliar." All three senses are still in use today.
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