noun of action from insulate (v.) in its various senses. From 1767 as "a blocking from electricity or heat" (by interposition of a non-conductor). Sense of "state or action of being detached from others" is from 1798. Literal meaning "act of making (land) into an island" is from 1784; that of "state of being an island" is from 1799. The concrete sense of "insulating material" is recorded by 1870.