insulation vs. isolation

  • Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    insulation

    n 1: the state of being isolated or detached; "the insulation of England was preserved by the English Channel" [syn: insularity, insularism, detachment] 2: a material that reduces or prevents the transmission of heat or sound or electricity [syn: insulating material, insulant] 3: the act of protecting something by surrounding it with material that reduces or prevents the transmission of sound or heat or electricity
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    isolation

    n 1: a state of separation between persons or groups 2: the act of isolating something; setting something apart from others [syn: closing off] 3: a feeling of being disliked and alone 4: preference for seclusion or isolation [syn: reclusiveness] 5: (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which memory of an unacceptable act or impulse is separated from the emotion originally associated with it 6: a country's withdrawal from internal politics; "he opposed a policy of American isolation"
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    insulation

    n 1: the state of being isolated or detached

    I can't say that I was every consciously aware of that meaning...

    "the insulation of England was preserved by the English Channel" - I understand it in that context but looking at the word alone I didn't think of it meaning that at all...well you learn something new everyday :p
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Lora said:
    insulation

    n 1: the state of being isolated or detached

    I can't say that I was every consciously aware of that meaning...

    "the insulation of England was preserved by the English Channel" - I understand it in that context but looking at the word alone I didn't think of it meaning that at all...well you learn something new everyday :p

    I agree, Lora. I would say that the average person (including me) would understand insulation as being the stuff put in the attic or walls of your house to prevent the loss of heat!
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    :arrow: insulate (PROTECT) verb [T] insulation (noun)

    to protect someone or something from outside influences:

    Children should be insulated from the horrors of war.
    Until recently the country's economy has been insulated from recession by its reserves of raw materials
    .



    :arrow: isolate [verb [T] isolation (noun)

    to separate something or someone from other things or people with which they are joined or mixed, or to keep them separate:

    He was isolated from all the other prisoners.
    A high wall isolated the house from the rest of the village.
    They tried to isolate (= find) the cause of the problem.
    SPECIALIZED Virus particles were eventually isolated from the tissue.



    (from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Lora said:
    insulation

    n 1: the state of being isolated or detached; "the insulation of England was preserved by the English Channel" [syn: insularity, insularism, detachment] 2: a material that reduces or prevents the transmission of heat or sound or electricity [syn: insulating material, insulant] 3: the act of protecting something by surrounding it with material that reduces or prevents the transmission of sound or heat or electricity
    Hmmm yes I have seen insulation used as for 1. but this is not very common - you'd usually use isolation for this - look at the definition "the state of being isolated". 2 or 3 is the usual meaning.

    I think that insulation works for this example given in 1 is that it comes from "insula" which is Latin for island and so perfectly describes the situation of a land-mass being kept apart by the sea.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    timpeac said:
    I think that insulation works for this example given in 1 is that it comes from "insula" which is Latin for island and so perfectly describes the situation of a land-mass being kept apart by the sea.
    That's part of the problem of the originator of this thread perhaps: Both isolate and insulate come from the same Latin root for island.

    From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

    isolate (v.) back-formation from isolated (1763), from Fr. isolé "isolated" (1642), from It. isolato, from L. insulatus "made into an island," from insula "island."
    And in the Spanish translations (see wordref.com) both words contain ''isla'' (island). So ''rootwise'' the words are the same.

    Perhaps the difference in English is that when we insulate something we put some material or abstract substance around it to separate it from other things; whereas to isolate it we simply move it away from other things.
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Lora said:
    insulation
    n 1: the state of being isolated or detached

    I can't say that I was every consciously aware of that meaning.
    I also agree. I've never heard that meaning.

    In the real word:
    insulation = protection against loss of heat
    We finished insulating the house yesterday. (== heat will no longer travel through the walls of the house)

    Whales are insulated by thick layers of fat. (== fat keeps the heat inside the whale).
    isolation = alone; separated; without
    These hospital patients are held in insolation. (== kept away from other people)

    We need to isolate the defective telephone. (== we need to find out which telephone is defective and then separated it from the other telephones)

    Our new office is very isolated. (== far away from everything else)

    The island is isolated from thunderstorms. (== the island has no thunderstorms)
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    I think Artrella's definitions support the use of insulate with people. I have often heard, for example, how insulated the children brought up in wealthy suburban households are, how unprepared they often are for some of the harsher realities of life they face when they finally leave the homes of their childhoods. These same children are not isolated.
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I would definitly use "isolated" in that example. The children are isolated from the real world. The children are isolated from reality. The children are isolated in their home.

    "Oh, how insulated the children are!" implies that the children are overweight.
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Nick said:
    I would definitly use "isolated" in that example. The children are isolated from the real world. The children are isolated from reality. The children are isolated in their home.

    "Oh, how insulated the children are!" implies that the children are overweight.
    LOL. We'll have to agree to disagree, dictionaries notwithstanding. ;)
     
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