Definition of aisle in English:



  • 1A passage between rows of seats in a building such as a church or theatre, an aircraft, or train.

    ‘the musical had the audience dancing in the aisles’
    • ‘I chose a seat on the aisle near the back and settled in to enjoy the program of traditional Christmas music.’
    • ‘The new bus has more seating, wider aisles and longer seat belts.’
    • ‘There's always that moment when, because there are four of us, three are allotted a row of seats and one has the seat across the aisle.’
    • ‘With three separate aisles, and seats that reclined to almost vertical it was the most comfortable bus I have ever ridden.’
    • ‘She had a stroke last year and moves slowly as the aisles of the train are not wide enough for her walker.’
    • ‘I've seen with my own eyes people take up four seats, the entire aisle and the toilet cubile by strategic placement of a few cases.’
    • ‘The bus was headed from the Western Wall to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood on the city's outskirts, and families with children were packed in the seats and aisles.’
    • ‘Turtle chose his seat on the train across the aisle from Tim in the row behind Megan and Jeff.’
    • ‘Everything takes much longer, as too many people are boarding at any one time and blocking the aisles near the prime seats.’
    • ‘Seated across the aisle from him were three girls Yutaka recognized from school.’
    • ‘I can only fly five hours maximum in aircraft with a decent seat pitch and only in an aisle seat, so I can move about.’
    • ‘Around 600 mourners filled the seats and aisles of St Andrew's to watch Mr Lewis's coffin carried in by some of his friends.’
    • ‘Thirty unarmed INS agents accompanied the flight, guarding the handcuffed deportees in shifts, standing in aircraft's aisles at every fifth row.’
    • ‘Rather than have them walk down the aisle of a moving train, why not try getting up and offering your seat?’
    • ‘Tickets for unreserved seats in the side aisles are being bought, such is the demand to see this concert.’
    • ‘As he walked off-stage, he cast a glance of recognition towards those seated in the second aisle.’
    • ‘At a humanist ceremony at York Crematorium, conducted by Maggie Blunt, mourners sat and kneeled in the aisles because every seat was taken.’
    • ‘At which point, I wondered, would it be ok to get up and move to the empty, inviting seats across the aisle?’
    • ‘Then my eyes fell on those three women, sitting on alternate seats across the aisle from each other.’
    • ‘Even with extra seats placed in the aisles, occupancy was far more than 100 per cent at both the concerts we attended.’
    passage, passageway, corridor, gangway, walkway, path, lane, alley
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A passage between cabinets and shelves of goods in a supermarket or other building.
      ‘I spend much of my time at the shops, wandering through the aisles’
      • ‘You wander through the aisles of any supermarket and everything is the same.’
      • ‘He wandered down the long aisle between the shelves that towered far too high to reach, stuffed with books.’
      • ‘While walking down the aisles - supermarket aisles that is - the Archbishop of York got more than he bargained for.’
      • ‘But I can still remember back to when I could dangle my legs out of the shopping cart seat and watch the aisles go by.’
      • ‘It's a mixed blessing, where the payment for an empty car-park and deserted supermarket aisles is a fair number of empty shelves which have yet to be stocked.’
      • ‘‘You're not funny,’ I hissed, then, gathering a stack of books, headed for a shelf a couple of aisles over.’
      • ‘And while it seems at home in supermarket produce aisles, it will be relegated to the household aisle of drug chains, where it initially underperformed in test.’
      • ‘The old storage barn, however, was the one that really delighted us, for most of the tools were still there, piled high on shelves and crammed into the aisles between shelves.’
      • ‘There were four aisles' worth of shelves, and to dust them required Adam to take the merchandise off, dust and then replace the items in the exact order with which they were removed.’
      • ‘The more choice we have, the less likely we are to enjoy the shared experience - unless it's wandering around the supermarket aisles in a mass daze, wondering what to buy.’
      • ‘He has seen film of a man walking down a supermarket aisle, and all the tins flying off the shelves as they pass.’
      • ‘Women have several supermarket aisles of stuff.’
      • ‘Soy burgers can be found in the frozen-foods aisle of any supermarket.’
      • ‘I felt so grown-up strolling the long aisles of towering wooden shelves, stopping to consider each interesting item - and its price.’
      • ‘Cruising the aisles of the Jewel supermarket in Barrington, Ill., she knows exactly what she wants and how much she's willing to pay for it.’
      • ‘This company is also known for its butter, which is richer than its domestic counterparts in U.S. supermarket dairy aisles.’
      • ‘Recognizing that people these days are used to picking their produce sparkling clean from supermarket aisles, Chuck and Rosie go the extra mile in presentation.’
      • ‘Go to the bread aisle in your supermarket, and count just how many different products we have.’
      • ‘Once she got there, she paced the aisle, scanning the shelves for a home pregnancy test.’
      • ‘Supermarkets will color code aisles according to genetic type so that DNA-savvy consumers can easily identify the right foods and supplements for themselves.’
    2. 1.2Architecture (in a church) a lower part parallel to the nave, choir, or transept, from which it is divided by pillars.
      ‘the tiled roof over the south aisle’
      • ‘The aisles and nave of the church are connected by arches which are held up by 18 imposing stone pillars made from well chiselled limestone.’
      • ‘She walked out into the main room and down the narrow aisle between the pews.’
      • ‘The route leads towards the double doors that lead to stairs which go up to the south aisle of the church.’
      • ‘There was also a nave with aisles and galleries and a particularly fine church organ.’
      • ‘A narrow chancel originally lay east of the nave and parts of its north wall can still be seen, pierced by the arcade between the nave and the north aisle.’
      • ‘In a gothic cathedral, the nave is flanked by aisles which run parallel to it.’
      • ‘The church is later English; and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with porch and tower.’
      • ‘White pillars towered above him, and marble guards lined the aisle, stone spears held at the ready.’
      • ‘The interior space was unified by creating level floors for the nave and aisles.’
      • ‘I'm an old abandoned church with broken pews and empty aisles.’
      • ‘Our church family enjoys having our choir standing in the aisles, blending in with the total congregation during congregational singing.’
      • ‘The service over, he strides down the pew aisle, wiping fingers across his brow.’
      • ‘Around the thirteenth-century north and south choir aisles, the spandrels of the blank arcading have many Green Beasts, including the one shown here.’
      • ‘Folding chairs were snapped open along the aisles and in the choir loft, filling every available surface in order to accommodate the throng who had come to honour Fred.’
      • ‘In the early 14th century the two nave aisles were rebuilt and the tower arch reconstructed.’
      • ‘The new grant will be used for repairs to the south nave aisle roof, north nave masonry and leaded light windows.’
      • ‘Internally, the building is divided into a nave, transepts and side aisles composed of ornamental cast-iron columns and girders and a gallery 12 feet wide runs all round the Hall.’
      • ‘Both share the wooden oriel projecting onto the choir, with a private entrance to the rear and a small door leading into the choir aisle.’
      • ‘Although St George's had to be wider than it was long, he managed to create a central, square nave flanked by galleried aisles, with an apse containing a magnificent tall reredos to the east.’
      • ‘The nearest people were five or six rows in front of me, and the pews across the aisle were empty for almost a dozen rows.’


  • lead someone up the aisle

    • Get married to someone.

      • ‘Catherine her sister acted as a bridesmaid and Thomas Pringle led her up the aisle.’
      • ‘Sadly, he never led me up the aisle or put a ring on my finger (actually, that isn't quite true), but this week all that changed when I became a different kind of Mrs Robinson.’
      • ‘He asked her if she would continue to lead up the aisle in single matches.’
      • ‘Rauru patted her gently on the shoulder, as he led her up the aisle.’
      • ‘These vulnerable readers would spend 20 years speaking with a fake Spanish accent, if a glossy-haired woman promised it would lead up the aisle’
  • walk down the aisle

    • Get married.

      ‘she became a mother within a year of walking down the aisle’
      • ‘It was a case of third time lucky for Lisa when she walked down the aisle last year.’
      • ‘It won't be long before they are walking down the aisle together.’
      • ‘People are waiting longer before walking down the aisle with the average groom being almost 37 years old and his bride nearly 34.’
      • ‘Today's young people dream about walking down the aisle.’
      • ‘He happily confesses that his favourite moment in any musical film is when Julie Andrews walks down the aisle in The Sound of Music.’
      • ‘More couples are willing to have preventative counselling than they are to seek it out after walking down the aisle.’
      • ‘The perennial bridesmaid's finally walked down the aisle.’
      • ‘These feelings are the things that are manufactured naturally when you see your daughter walking down the aisle.’
      • ‘He has already walked down the aisle a staggering five times.’
      • ‘Since the royal couple walked down the aisle, they have had an eventful 12 months.’


Late Middle English ele, ile, from Old French ele, from Latin ala ‘wing’. The spelling change in the 17th century was due to confusion with isle and influenced by French aile ‘wing’.