An ait, or eyot as it is sometimes spelled, is a small island, especially one found in a river, but also in a lake. Ait is, in fact, derived from the Old English word for small island. In Mary Clearman Blew’s All But the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family, the author remembers going with her grandmother and a friend to rescue a sow and her piglets caught in the middle of the rain-swollen Judith River: “On a bare ait at midcurrent, completely surrounded and only inches above that muddy roiling water, huddle the pigs.” Although the term is seldom heard in modern times, ait-land has a particularly pleasing aural kinship to its synonym island, despite the fact that the two do not share a common derivation.

Kim Barnes