Lecture theatre seating

What do you call the walking lanes in lecture rooms? You can't call it a stair, because it's not really a stair, you can't call it a corridor either. The only word I can think of is walking lane, but I doubt it's called that. Isn't there a more specific word I can use?

  • What would you call it? and what does your (bilingual) dictionary call that?
    – James K
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 7:06

1 Answer 1


This (and any similar "lane") is usually called an aisle (pronounced "eye-ll"):

aisle (n): 1. A passage between rows of seats in a building such as a church or theatre, an aircraft, or train. 1.1 A passage between cabinets and shelves of goods in a supermarket or other building.


Carelessly tapping away on her cell phone as she entered the lecture hall, the student stumbled off of the top stair of the center aisle, and might have fallen headfirst all the way to the bottom if her friend hadn't caught her by the arm.

Side note: The etymology of "aisle" is a definitive illustration of why English spelling is so bizarre. "Aisle" originally derives from the old French ele (wing) from the Latin ala (presumably from the way it separates the people in a large room like the wings of an army). So far, so good.

At some point in the 15th century, "aisle" became confused with the Middle English "ile" (island), and, some time after, both gained a silent "s" (possibly to re-associate "isle/island" to the Latin insula). Shortly after, "aisle" gained an "a" to match it with the updated French spelling aile.

Perfectly logical, right?

  • Plural: aisles. There is often more than one aisle in a large room, including along the sides.
    – CodeGnome
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 14:18
  • A former work colleague once observed that the only reason spelling bees are interesting is because English is, as he put it, such a bad language. A German spelling bee in comparison would be incredibly dull and might go on for weeks!
    – Greg Bacon
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 17:01
  • 1
    @GregBacon German spelling bees would go on so long because it takes forever to spell each word. Half the audience would have fallen asleep before the first contestant got finished spelling Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft :D
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 17:03
  • @Andrew - which google helpfully translated to "Danube steamship electricity main factory construction substation" German is amazing in creating words like this spell! Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 21:53
  • 'He took his bride-to-be up the aisle'. Better than clambering over seats?
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .