Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Paul Spalding-Mulcock
Features Writer
1:02 AM 22nd July 2023

Word Of The Week : Isthmus

Isthmus noun

Words can perhaps be seen as metaphorical linguistic terra firma, connecting thought with expression, across the vast ocean that is human consciousness. Moving on from this rather abstract concept, the word Isthmus represents an altogether more physical nexus.

Derived from the Ancient Greek word, isthmós meaning neck, this geographical noun denotes a piece of land connecting two larger land masses across an expanse of water by which they would otherwise be separated. It is not to be confused with a tombolo, which is an isthmus taking the form of a bar of sand or shingle joining an island to the mainland.

I recall my Geography teacher gravely informing our class that a land bridge is also a form of isthmus, earnestly reminding us that this term specified a strip of land connecting Earth’s major landmasses. Enjoying her hallowed chalk-board celebrity, said teacher went on to tell us that a strait is the sea counterpart of an isthmus, being a narrow stretch of sea between two landmasses connecting two larger bodies of water.

If the school bell had not sonorously declared a hiatus in didactic proceedings, said teacher would have knowingly scribbled the word peninsula upon the dusty blackboard, reminding her feckless pupils that this word refers to a land protrusion which is connected to a bigger landmass on one side only, and surrounded by water on all other sides.