I was wondering if there is a word that describes a piece of land that is being surrounded by river(s)?

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Is "island" appropriate for this? I always thought the word Island means a piece of land surrounded by a large amount of water that you need some kind of naval transportation to get to.

In this case, you can possibly just swim over or build a simple bridge and you can get to the center piece of land.

  • 10
    Yes it's an island. An example is the Isle of Dogs in London. You can also get islands in a (single) river, although you can also use the word eyot or ait for that type of island.
    – Rupe
    Jun 12, 2014 at 15:10
  • 1
    An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, or a holm. @Rupe - though of course the Isle of Dogs isn't completely surrounded by water. Jun 12, 2014 at 15:11
  • @FumbleFingers True but only because they filled a little bit in.
    – Rupe
    Jun 12, 2014 at 15:35
  • 1
    While eyot, ait, and holm might be proper names for these, island is used far more commonly, at least in AmE. There are Beaver Island and Pike Island in the Mississippi River, for instance.
    – Gob Ties
    Jun 12, 2014 at 16:02
  • Bananal Island is a famous riverine island, formed from the bisection of the Araguaia River, in southwestern Tocantins, Brazil. Since the Casiquiare 'Canal' (Channel) links the Orinoco and the Amazon, I've often tried to convince my geographer wife that this means that an awful lot of NE S America is an island. But she won't accept it. Jun 12, 2014 at 16:23

7 Answers 7


Per the OED, an eyot or ait is

An islet or small isle; especially one in a river, as the aits or eyots of the Thames.


An small island in a estuary, lake, or river is a holm

Holm An island in a river.


This is an island.

A large example of such an island was the "Île-de-France". Prior to the French Revolution, this region of France was almost completely bounded by rivers.

The Île-de-France was an extremely large example of such an island. Most such islands are in river deltas, and are much smaller.

As Peter Shor pointed out in the comments, "Manhattan Island is such an island. It's a little over 2 miles wide, and it's bounded by the Hudson River, the Harlem River, and the East River, all less than a mile wide (sometimes much less). And there are indeed bridges (over a dozen of them) to Manhattan from the east, west, and north."

  • Can you provide a reference that these are generally called islands? In your link it seems to refer to the name of the region in France, not the specifics in the question.
    – JJJ
    Apr 27, 2019 at 19:36
  • Manhattan Island is such an island. It's a little over 2 miles wide, and it's bounded by the Hudson River (fairly wide, maybe a mile) to the west and the Harlem River and East River, (quite a bit narrower) to the north and east. And there are indeed bridges (over a dozen of them) to Manhattan from the east, west, and north. Apr 27, 2019 at 19:58

It's pretty common for there to be landmasses in rivers. One of the most (in)famous is Three Mile Island on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, known for being the location of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1979. Here are all the named landmasses (according to Google Maps) between Three Mile Island and the Market St Bridge (to the north):

  • Shelley Island
  • Beech Island
  • Goosehorn Island
  • Kohr Island
  • Hill Island
  • Fall Island
  • Poplar Island
  • Little Stony Island
  • Sassafras Island
  • Spades Wharf Island
  • Calver Island
  • Fritz Island
  • Zimmerman Island
  • Hoak Island
  • Stucker Island
  • Hess Island
  • Redbuds Island
  • Sheesly Island
  • City Island

My point is that in practice these landmasses are almost always called "islands." If you need more examples, you can also look at the Potomac going northwards from DC.


An "islet" is a small island. That may be more appropriate.

  • 2
    Unless it's big...
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 12, 2014 at 18:11

I think inland island may be an appropriate description.


Towhead is used commonly in formal American English and "Isle" or "Islet" in casual.

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