Verb > Insulate

Verb – Insulate

Inside the word “insulate,” you can see the Latin word for “island:” insula.

Literally speaking, to insulate something is to turn it into an island: to surround it with water.

More abstractly, to insulate things or people is to detach them from other people or places: to set them apart from others, separating them from other parts of the real world, as if they’re on an island.

And more concretely, of course, to insulate things is to protect them so that they can’t be reached by outside forces, like heat, cold, noise, or electricity.

Part of speech:
verb, the transitive kind: “They’ve insulated him from the dangers of the real world.”

Other common forms:
insulated, insulating, insulation, insulative.

how to use it:
Although we often talk literally about insulated gloves, jackets, coffee mugs, lunch boxes, etc., in this issue, we’ll focus on figurative usage.

Talk about people, places, decisions, and situations that insulate people–often from bad consequences, or from the surrounding reality. “He’s been homeschooled, insulated from the pressures of public school.” “Their small village is insulated from technological changes.” “Her wealth has insulated her from the ordinary stress of scraping by.”

examples:
“Before her recent success in the American entertainment industry…Ms. Chopra was already one of Bollywood’s most popular celebrities. It hasn’t insulated her from backlash and criticism in India.”
— Arit John, New York Times, 13 August 2019

“According to [Neomi] Rao, … if the House attempts to probe the president’s alleged wrongdoing on any basis other than impeachment, he is insulated from its demands.”
— Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 11 October 2019