scaffold vs scaffolding

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

Could anyone tell me the differences between the two words, namely scaffold and scaffolding?

Here's what I found:

scaffolding n


a structure of metal poles and wooden boards put against a building for workers to stand on when they want to reach the higher parts of the building


scaffold noun n [C]
a structure made of scaffolding for workers to stand on when they want to reach high parts of a building

(source: http://dictionary.cambridge.org)

To me, the above definitons have overlapping meanings, but I can't draw any logical conclusion.
 
  • panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A scaffold brings to mind the structure used for judicial hanging.

    Having escaped that, in my head a scaffold is a defined and limited structure.
    Scaffolding is the free-form stuff that is constructed, on demand, from the individual pieces.

    A scaffold.

    Some scaffolding.

    This may be a very personal perspective.
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    In the context of building work it is almost always 'scaffolding'.

    The word 'scaffold' has connotations of capital punishment (the scaffold was the structure from which people used to be hanged).

    "Scaffolding' is also a buzzword in educational circles to describe the process of providing a structure for a piece of writing/work with/for a pupil, rather than just throwing them in at the deep end with it.
     

    Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    Yes, they can be used interchangeably in many cases, except in special circumstances.

    For example, the structure someone who's about to be hanged from is "the scaffold", not "the scaffolding".
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    Yes, they can be used interchangeably in many cases, except in special circumstances.
    Do you think so?

    I have listened to a lot of builders over the years and I have never once heard them refer to scaffolding as 'scaffold'.
     

    Valkyrie517

    Senior Member
    American English
    I would say that they are generally interchangeable in terms of scaffolding for building.

    I would say, however, that the simpler the structure, the more likely I would be to say "scaffold".

    When I did painting work in my younger days, we would just put up two ladders with supports for one long board, and I would probably called that a "scaffold" most days.

    On the other hand, on a big building with varying heights and lengths of scaffold, I would call it "scaffolding".

    And see? I just used the two words interchangeably in the previous sentence. I could just have easily said "varying heights and lengths of scaffolding".
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    Perhaps there is a difference then, between American and British usage.
     

    Valkyrie517

    Senior Member
    American English
    Perhaps there is a difference then, between American and British usage.
    My instinct seems to agree with the Irish panjandrum.

    It is tricky though. It just occurred to me that even if I was up on a huge complex of scaffolding and somebody called my cell, I would say "I'm up on a scaffold" rather than "I'm up on scaffolding".
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    My instinct seems to agree with the Irish panjandrum.

    It is tricky though. It just occurred to me that even if I was up on a huge complex of scaffolding and somebody called my cell, I would say "I'm up on a scaffold" rather than "I'm up on scaffolding".
    Between American and English usage, then.:rolleyes:
    (We wouldn't be up a scaffold with a cell, either!)
     
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