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[pawr-tuh-bil-i-tee, pohr-] /ˌpɔr təˈbɪl ɪ ti, ˌpoʊr-/
noun, plural portabilities for 2.
the state or quality of being portable.
a plan or system under which employees may accumulate pension rights under any employer who is a participant in the plan negotiated with their union.
Origin of portability
1965-70; port(able) + -ability
Related forms
nonportability, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for portability
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The advantages of this form of apparatus are its portability, speed of operation, and comparatively great range.

    Visual Signaling Signal Corps United States Army
  • Its portability; which made it easy for the traveller to carry it about with him.

  • When reversed, as it must be for portability, the capillary attraction keeps the mercury in the long branch.

  • But the most salient characteristic of this machine is its portability.

    Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War Frederick A. Talbot
  • The Prometheans, however, possessed the advantage of portability, and for occasional purposes they were convenient.

    Great Facts Frederick C. Bakewell
  • Oxyacetylene equipment has found application, owing to its portability.

    Artificial Light M. Luckiesh
  • Its portability will render it as available for travelling, as its beauty will render it an ornament to the drawing-room.

portability in Technology

operating system, programming
The ease with which a piece of software (or file format) can be "ported", i.e. made to run on a new platform and/or compile with a new compiler.
The most important factor is the language in which the software is written and the most portable language is almost certainly C (though see Vaxocentrism for counterexamples). This is true in the sense that C compilers are available for most systems and are often the first compiler provided for a new system. This has led several compiler writers to compile other languages to C code in order to benefit from its portability (as well as the quality of compilers available for it).
The least portable type of language is obviously assembly code since it is specific to one particular (family of) processor(s). It may be possible to translate mechanically from one assembly code (or even machine code) into another but this is not really portability. At the other end of the scale would come interpreted or semi-compiled languages such as LISP or Java which rely on the availability of a portable interpreter or virtual machine written in a lower level language (often C for the reasons outlined above).
The act or result of porting a program is called a "port". E.g. "I've nearly finished the Pentium port of my big bang simulation."
Portability is also an attribute of file formats and depends on their adherence to standards (e.g. ISO 8859) or the availability of the relevant "viewing" software for different platforms (e.g. PDF).

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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