Etymology of Provincial and Insular

By Xah Lee. Date: .

Yes, “provincial” is exactly the right word to describe the constricted worldview of so many American intellectuals—although there are very few true intellectuals left in this country. What we mostly have are insular, elitist academics and hopelessly bland literary journalists, clustered in genteel urban ghettos. Timidity and groupthink are epidemic.

[Camille Paglia on Drag Queens and Democrats: Obama Behaved Like ‘King at Versailles' Renegade feminist reveals how to be a public intellectual: “Get a real job!” By Michael Malice. At ]

etymology of province

early 14c., “country, territory, region,” from Old French province “province, part of a country; administrative region for friars” (13c.) and directly from Latin provincia “territory outside Italy under Roman domination,” also “a public office; public duty,” of uncertain origin, usually explained as pro- “before” + vincere “to conquer” (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) “to fight, conquer”); but this does not suit the earliest Latin usages. Meaning “one's particular business or expertise” is from 1620s.

[etymology of province]

etymology of island

1590s, earlier yland (c. 1300), from Old English igland, iegland “an island,” from ieg “island” (from Proto-Germanic *aujo “thing on the water,” from PIE root *akwa- “water”) + land (n.). As an adjective from 1620s.

Spelling modified 16c. by association with similar but unrelated isle. Similar formation in Old Frisian eiland, Middle Dutch eyland, German Eiland, Danish öland, etc. In place names, Old English ieg is often used of “slightly raised dry ground offering settlement sites in areas surrounded by marsh or subject to flooding” [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. Island universe “solar system” (1846) translates German Weltinsel (von Humboldt, 1845). An Old English cognate was ealand “river-land, watered place, meadow by a river.” Related: Islander.

[etymology of island]