From Wiktionary:

Gangway: a passageway through which to enter or leave, such as one between seating areas in an auditorium, or between two buildings.

Aisle: a clear path through rows of seating.

Is the key difference here that a gangway leads to an exit door, while an aisle can just lead from one wall to the other in an auditorium or movie theater?

The question actually arose when I was proofreading a translation about a document storage area and noticed that the translator used gangway in the position where I expected to find aisle:

Control and measuring devices (thermometers, psychrometers, hygrometers) are placed in the main gangway on a rack away from heating and ventilation systems.

1 Answer 1


Gangway suggests a narrow pathway

Aisle is the route that leads from the back of the auditorium towards the stage.

Aisle is also used for the central gap between seats in a church. The bride walks up the aisle. And for the walkways in a supermarket..

Gangway has nautical connotations: the narrow route from the upper deck to the fo'c'sle. It collocates with "run"

And there are apparently dialect difference. British are more likely to use "gangway" in contexts where Americans will use "aisle".

He ran down the gangway. He walked up the aisle.

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