isolate [verb ahy-suh-leyt; noun, adjective ahy-suh-lit, -leyt] ExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for isolate on verb (used with object), i·so·lat·ed, i·so·lat·ing.

  1. to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.
  2. Medicine/Medical. to keep (an infected person) from contact with noninfected persons; quarantine.
  3. Chemistry, Bacteriology. to obtain (a substance or microorganism) in an uncombined or pure state.
  4. Electricity. to insulate.
  5. Television. to single out (a person, action, etc.) for a camera closeup.


  1. a person, thing, or group that is set apart or isolated, as for purposes of study.
  2. Psychology. a person, often shy or lacking in social skills, who avoids the company of others and has no friends within a group.
  3. Biology. an inbreeding population that is isolated from similar populations by physiological, behavioral, or geographic barriers.
  4. Also called language isolate. Linguistics. a language with no demonstrable genetic relationship, as Basque.
  5. something that has been isolated, as a by-product in a manufacturing process: an isolate of soy flour.


  1. isolated; alone.

Origin of isolate First recorded in 1800–10; back formation from isolated Related formsi·so·la·tor, nounre·i·so·late, verb (used with object), re·i·so·lat·ed, re·i·so·lat·ing.un·i·so·late, verb (used with object), un·i·so·lat·ed, un·i·so·lat·ing. Related Words for isolate disengage, confine, disconnect, divide, separate, insulate, remove, segregate, sequester, detach, seclude, divorce, abstract, part, sunder, quarantine, sever, island Examples from the Web for isolate Contemporary Examples of isolate

  • JUDNICK: My reaction is so visceral that I immediately, like you, isolate myself so I can breathe.

    The Unbearable Whiteness of Protesting

    Rawiya Kameir, Judnick Mayard

    December 10, 2014

  • They are, after all, carefully selected “types,” and to isolate them runs the risk of seeing the book as an allegory.

    Albert Camus, Our Existential Epidemiologist

    Malcolm Jones

    October 17, 2014

  • We can do that because of two things: strong health care…and strong public health that can track contacts and isolate them.

    CDC Director: First U.S. Ebola Patient ‘Critically Ill’

    Abby Haglage

    September 30, 2014

  • Backed by NATO solidarity and economic sanctions with teeth, it just might isolate Putin enough that he backs off.

    This Really Is Obama’s Moment of Truth

    Jonathan Alter

    September 4, 2014

  • He made a decision to isolate himself, so I would ask did he think he was going to die when he realized he was exposed?

    Sanjay Gupta, on the Ebola Front Lines

    Tim Teeman

    August 4, 2014

  • Historical Examples of isolate

  • But we do not isolate the comic personage as we do the solitary, tragic figure.

    The American Mind

    Bliss Perry

  • Like Hermione, he wished to isolate Vere, to preserve her as she was in character.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • The winter seemed to isolate them from the world still more.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • You see, I’ve had to be careful—not to isolate you from life—life as it is.

    The World Beyond

    Raymond King Cummings

  • It seeks to isolate itself from matter and sense, and to assert its independence in thought.



  • British Dictionary definitions for isolate isolate verb (ˈaɪsəˌleɪt) (tr)

    1. to place apart; cause to be alone
    2. med to quarantine (a person or animal) having or suspected of having a contagious disease
    3. to obtain (a compound) in an uncombined form
    4. to obtain pure cultures of (bacteria, esp those causing a particular disease)
    5. electronics to prevent interaction between (circuits, components, etc); insulate

    noun (ˈaɪsəlɪt)

    1. an isolated person or group

    Derived Formsisolable, adjectiveisolability, nounisolator, nounWord Origin for isolate C19: back formation from isolated, via Italian from Latin insulātus, literally: made into an island; see insulate Word Origin and History for isolate v.

    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).

    isolate in Medicine isolate [ī′sə-lāt′] v.

    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.


    1. A bacterial or fungal strain that has been isolated.

    Related formsi′so•la′tor n.

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