Portable [school buildings]

ribran

Senior Member
English - American
Term: Portable



Your definition or explanation: Portables are temporary buildings used as classroom space by overcrowded schools.


Example: When I was in seventh grade, all my classes were in portables.


One or more places you have seen the term:
Despite the drawbacks, many teachers don't seem to mind working in a portable, Waters said.
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/dec/01/short-term-solution-overcrowded-schools-sale-creek/?print

We want to hear about your experiences as a teacher or student having a class in a portable.
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/20...e-memories-posterous_1_portable-hate-memories

Some members of the Resident Owners Association say the schools are breaking their end of the bargain with the city, and that the portables are not only ugly, they restrict access to public spaces.
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/ne...k-elementary-portables-are-there-to-stay.html

If portables don’t return to Highland Park ISD campuses a year from now, you can be sure they’ll be back in two years.
http://www.parkcitiespeople.com/2011/10/17/count-on-seeing-portables-within-two-years/



Have you looked for this term or meaning in dictionaries, and not found it? Yes __x__ No ___
 
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  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Wow, that's very odd, Ri ~ not to mention fairly comical. Doesn't portable basically mean the same in AE as in BE, i.e.:)rolleyes:) 'which you can carry around with you'?

    I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    This usage of the word is pretty old. The portables at my high school have been there since at least the 70s. I know we called them "portables" in the 80s. Last year, they tried to replace them with modulars, but there's a new law (newer than the portables, so they're grandfathered in) that any new temporary classrooms must be replaced by permanent buildings after 2 years. Since the main school building is a historical landmark, they can't build any permanent buildings on the site to replace the modulars so they have to keep the portables. Catch-22!

    The usage of portable (building) isn't really much stranger than "mobile home".
     

    Texano

    Member
    English - Texas and Southern Dialect
    Portable buildings = portables. Agreed.

    I have also heard them referred to as prefabs, modulars, premans (pre-manufactured), mobile classrooms or mobile office(s), mobiles, units. There are more I'm sure.

    "Portacabins" makes me conjure up images of camping trailers, but I have no doubt you use(d) it. I would understand you completely if you were to use it.
     

    owlman

    Member
    English - United States
    Not that you need another Texan opinion :) but the schools I went to in the 80's/90's had lots of portables, and everyone always referred to them as such. Now that I'm out of school, I tend to hear "portable building" or "modular building" more, but I think the "portable" term on its own is still fairly well understood.
     

    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    While I also now live in Austin, we definitely referred to them as "portables" in New York (Long Island) when I was in Junior High/High School in the 1980s.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Wow, that's very odd, Ri ~ not to mention fairly comical. Doesn't portable basically mean the same in AE as in BE, i.e.:)rolleyes:) 'which you can carry around with you'?

    I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs.

    prefab /ˈpriːˌfæb/n
    • a building that is prefabricated, esp a small house

    Portables are more like house trailers/mobile homes (BE caravans).
     

    Daican

    Member
    English - Canada
    Wow, that's very odd, Ri ~ not to mention fairly comical. Doesn't portable basically mean the same in AE as in BE, i.e.:)rolleyes:) 'which you can carry around with you'? I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs.
    The OED has several definitions for portable including :
    A. 2. c. Of a building, bridge, etc.: not of a permanent construction; capable of being dismantled and re-erected elsewhere.
    and this definition has quotes ranging from 1604 to 1992. It also has a further definition under Special uses :
    portable classroom n. orig. U.S. a trailer or transportable prefabricated building used as a temporary classroom.
    and this definition has quotes ranging from 1908 to 1984. I have never heard 'prefabs' used for these, and there has been a lot of press about the portables in use here in Toronto.
     

    sandra1968

    New Member
    English - US-England
    The word portable does actually mean somehting that can be moved around like a portable computer.
    Schools have started using temporary buildings to create extra classrooms and, while they could be called:
    Mobile classrooms - a little like the mobile homes that are used in the US and are basically prefabbed houses dropped onto cinder blocks.
    Temporary classrooms - a more accurate description

    But the schools call them portables. No real logic, it's just the name.
     
    Ewie said,

    //I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs. //

    That wouldn't quite do, in my opinion, because of the most common use of that term:

    Prefab House - Definition of Prefab House - Architecture - About.com
    architecture.about.com › ... › Dictionaries › P: Architecture Terms‎
    by Jackie Craven -

    Prefab homes are made from easy-to-assemble building parts that were manufactured off-site. Find pictures, plans, links, and other resources.

    ===

    The 'portables' at my high school were in fact, entire, completed one-room structures, lacking only steps to the door. I did not see it done, but I believe each was hauled there, complete, on some kind of truck. Having no wheels, it could not be towed, but would be lifted, e.g with large fork lift and placed on cement blocks or slabs.

    ==

    I do not understand Sandra's comment:

    The word portable does actually mean somehting that can be moved around like a portable computer.
    Schools have started using temporary buildings to create extra classrooms and, while they could be called:
    Mobile classrooms - a little like the mobile homes that are used in the US and are basically prefabbed houses dropped onto cinder blocks.
    Temporary classrooms - a more accurate description

    But the schools call them portables. No real logic, it's just the name.

    ===

    They are portable because they can be moved around, as well as removed. You bring in a fork lift, lift it off its blocks and place it elsewhere on the school campus. Likewise, I've come and seen a blank spot; the thing was removed, perhaps for use at another school.
     
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