1610s, "of or pertaining to an island," from Late Latin insularis "of or belonging to an island," from Latin insula "island" (see isle). Metaphoric sense "narrow, prejudiced" is from 1775, from notion of being isolated and cut off from intercourse with other nations or people (an image that naturally suggested itself in Great Britain). The earlier adjective in the literal sense was insulan (mid-15c.), from Latin insulanus.
updated on December 13, 2015