Definition of portable in US English:



  • 1Able to be easily carried or moved, especially because being of a lighter and smaller version than usual.

    ‘a portable television’
    • ‘She always carries around a small portable radio, which she calls her Transistor Radio.’
    • ‘They mostly came from inner cities around the country, usually showed up in sparkling brand new trainers, carrying a portable stereo, booming dance music.’
    • ‘The portable TV was moved to the nook and we tried it out again.’
    • ‘As Patrick tells it, Fr. Foy was forbidden to say Mass on the High Altar and carried his portable tabernacle on the occasions he said his private Mass.’
    • ‘After an evaluation period, the generator, which has been designed to be portable, will be moved on to more testing sites such as Burgar Hill.’
    • ‘A small woman was at the desk, her head leaning on her hand as she watched a tiny portable television.’
    • ‘Whether I was in a train or a plane, I carried a portable typewriter and never failed my editors.’
    • ‘Without waiting for a reply, Khartoum produced a tiny portable television that ran on solar power.’
    • ‘He was carrying some sort of portable tank with tubes into his nose, like you see for people on oxygen, but his was some sort of nutrient thing or painkiller; I'm not sure which.’
    • ‘I can now listen to only my favorite songs on an album, rearrange songs into my preferred order, or move them to a portable player.’
    • ‘He was on a kayaking holiday, carrying a portable altar with him and using two paddles for a cross.’
    • ‘Flocks of urbanists and media enthusiasts walked the streets carrying portable radio receivers in the hope of picking up the broadcasts.’
    • ‘Whenever he is out and about he has to carry a portable oxygen tank.’
    • ‘It will also be fitted with oxygen equipment and will also carry portable oxygen equipment so that casualties can be treated before they get to the ambulance.’
    • ‘For a portable inhalant, carry a tissue or handkerchief with you on which has been placed one drop each of the previous essential oils, and inhale deeply whenever possible.’
    • ‘Not to stop with a portable television, mini table fan, handgrips in steel chains, the rider shows his obsession for siren and mini cone speaker.’
    • ‘He glared angrily at the small screen of the portable television that he had propped on top of a large stack of dictionaries and rule books.’
    • ‘Mr McDowell said afterwards a simple mistake had caused the fire after a child carried a portable television into the kitchen and left it on top of a cooker where it began to smoulder before catching fire.’
    • ‘A colleague had a tiny portable television with a black and white screen.’
    • ‘Now you can zap all of your huge CD collection on to one small portable hard drive and carry it around with you.’
    transportable, movable, mobile, transferable, easily carried, easy to carry, conveyable, travelling, travel
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Computing (of software) able to be transferred from one machine or system to another.
      • ‘Once you've come to grips with the control, it does feel like true analogue movement on a portable system, but there are often occasions when you'll just wish for an actual analogue nub.’
      • ‘The same factors that made hardware-centric database machines obsolete in favor of portable database software are now at play in the storage market.’
      • ‘System and method for controlling data transfer between multiple interconnected computer systems with a portable input device’
      • ‘The good news is that the process model is simple to understand, ensures stability on the system and is portable across many operating systems.’
      • ‘So I read this section wondering whether OS X apps were somehow portable to other OSes.’
      • ‘First, rapid changes in hardware architecture and a lack of software standards have made it difficult to develop robust, portable and efficient software.’
    2. 1.2British (of a loan or pension) capable of being transferred or adapted in altered circumstances.
      • ‘Most mortgages are now portable, which means you can transfer them to a new property if you move and avoid early - repayment charges.’
      • ‘Employees usually like defined contribution plans because they are very visible, easier to understand than traditional pension plans and portable.’
      • ‘What Europe clearly needs is portable pensions - retirement packages that its workers can take anywhere.’
      • ‘Seven years after simple, cheap, flexible portable pensions were mooted as a good idea for Irish consumers, they are finally in place.’
      • ‘Workers liked the idea of personal, portable pensions and accumulating tax-deferred returns.’
      • ‘Given modern employment patterns, workers do need a portable pension that stays with them, job to job.’
      • ‘Each worker is given a portable account credited with a percentage of pay, with interest buildup, each year.’
      • ‘The PRSA, a personalised and portable pension designed to entice lower-paid workers to save for the future, was a Pensions Board initiative.’
      • ‘‘Everyone is looking for products to be portable and mobile and that is where we come in with our data storage capability,’ he said.’
      • ‘The pension plan is portable from job to job, and does not discriminate against self-employment.’
      • ‘And a new portable mortgage locks in today's low rates - not just for this house but for the next one, too.’
      • ‘Under a national pension system, every individual in the country would immediately have access to a low-cost, fully portable, retirement plan.’
      • ‘The banking services include payment of interest on current accounts, portable credit history and an unbundling of banking services.’
      • ‘Replace existing pension plans with portable private accounts administered by private financial institutions.’
      • ‘She feels that Turner's proposal to make pensions portable from one employer to the next will help make it easier for people to understand how much money they will have in retirement.’
      • ‘This loan is portable, which means that you can transfer it to a home of equal or greater value.’
      • ‘For instance, the commodity is durable and it is also portable.’
      • ‘Workers can pay money into an investment account weekly, monthly or whenever they can, accumulating a portable pension fund.’
      • ‘Defined contribution schemes are also a lot more transparent and portable.’
      • ‘In five years time, mortgages will have become portable products with no loyalty to the lender attached.’


  • 1A version of something, such as a small lightweight television or computer, that can be easily carried.

    • ‘We also collected two portable electric keyboards that we check out like library books, so students can practice for contests and performances.’
    • ‘If you want to bring everything with you, including leads, spare batteries and drives, you end up with a clutter of gadgets and leads - the very thing portables are designed to cut out.’
    • ‘To reduce firewood consumption and fire rings, backpackers started carrying small portable stoves.’
    • ‘This year, I wondered exactly what my licence gave me as a viewer with a colour television set and colour portable.’
    • ‘And carry portable polish-remover wipes in your handbag for on-the-spot removal of chipped color.’
    • ‘Every broadcaster is moving to those bigger pictures, and you will soon be kicking yourself if you buy a set that has the old screen shape, unless it's a portable for the bedroom.’
    • ‘There will be no fans, the units will have to run cool enough for it to be comfortable to carry them around (think how people would have laughed if you'd predicted portables too hot to carry ten years ago).’
    • ‘Glam on the go: with these portables stashed in your bag, you'll leave the gym looking as good as you feel’
    • ‘These new portables, sometimes called pen scanners or wand scanners, are in effect mini-versions of the flatbed scanners that were used to convey printed text into a PC.’
    • ‘Manufacturers can easily incorporate the chip into any portable, battery-operated gadget.’
    • ‘All the big names have proprietary power saving programs that monitor CPU activity and respond accordingly to try to extend battery life on portables.’
    • ‘Made of cast metal and sculpted stainless steel, the line features a collection of portables including espresso machines, waffle makers, coffee mills and more.’
    • ‘To top it all off, none of the above mentioned formats will play on a portable.’
    • ‘Conceivably, small storage devices (like notebook hard drives) will become standard for use in all devices, both portables and desktops.’
    • ‘Although the picture quality was poor on the original televisions the school used, picture quality on the portables the school bought as replacements was very sharp.’
    • ‘But equally, as Anderson himself admitted during the earnings conference call, pros are increasingly choosing portables over desktops.’
    • ‘This will largely be driven by healthy sales of consumer desktop and portables, while Japan will thrive on consumer PCs along with continuing recovery in business PC sales.’
    • ‘Investigators found five portable stoves containing charcoal in the vehicle and its windows sealed with tape from the inside.’
    • ‘The trouble is that they forget that people do not carry portable, battery-operated apartments around in their pockets.’
    • ‘They'd cut nearly a whole pound off the weight of one of their flagship portables, which was pretty damned light to begin with.’
    1. 1.1North American A small transportable building used as a classroom.
      • ‘He said "hello", pulling me towards him as I walked past the school portables.’
      • ‘The JROTC complex is four small portables, three classrooms and the office and storage.’
      • ‘Cullen always went with his girlfriend, Clayton usually found his fellow jerks, and I grabbed my books, most of the time, and headed towards the portables out back of the school.’
      • ‘There were three portables at Ferriday and they all had two classrooms built into them.’
      • ‘That same day after school, Mary walked out of the portable as she waved to all her classmates, when unexpectedly, Bryan came out from the back of the classroom.’
      • ‘Currently housed in trailers and portables on the east side of the campus, the move will be a welcome and long overdue change according to contemporary arts faculty members.’
      • ‘Surely the Dems would have no further need for the single-story portables - modular buildings are just about the only answer the district has come up with for its overcrowding problems.’
      • ‘Former student and teacher Pat Paxton remembers many teens being late because they couldn't get from portables to their classrooms in the five minutes allotted.’
      • ‘After school, behind the portables I found Matt leaning against the portable wall - waiting for me.’
      • ‘But there are already two portables being used as classrooms and enrolment will soon be more than the school can handle, said Hicks.’
      • ‘Every morning each portable had a vase of fresh flowers.’
      • ‘There was only one building, apart from several portables, redbrick and medium sized.’
      • ‘I smiled before turning off the engine in the closest parking space I could find which wasn't too far from the main building, over by the portables.’
      • ‘The whole terminal looks like a giant school portable, except that it's got better air-conditioning.’
      • ‘Filled to overcapacity, the old structure could only accommodate 950 students and portables have been a fixture on the site since the early 1980s.’
      • ‘Tracy groaned fearfully as she paces back and forth alone around the stairs going up to the B building and the portables.’
      • ‘They couldn't always be there, in the trenches of the playground, behind the portables or by the monkey bars, watching Billy the Bully's every move.’
      • ‘A 32-foot portable was blown around three feet away from its normal position.’
      • ‘There were three large metal portables lined up beside the school.’
      • ‘You two are sharing the portables tomorrow at the school.’
      • ‘The district is so short of classroom space that it uses 113 portables.’


Late Middle English: from Old French portable, from late Latin portabilis, from Latin portare ‘carry’.