In England, the beaches can be windy. I have seen people put up a "wind shield" like this. picture of beach with vertically arranged cloth hung to block the wind

I haven't seen people use this in America or Europe, but I haven't been to many beaches there.

I'd call this wind shield, simply because it shields the wind. But in America, windshield means the frontal glass of a car.

Is there a more proper name for this in British English, American English and other English (South African, Australian, etc)?

Thank you

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    What did you google to find that image? Anyway, as two words, "wind shield" wouldn't cause any problems to a (my) American ear. Though we might call it a "wind screen" . That said, I haven't seen those used on any beaches here in the NE US. – Dan Bron Aug 30 '14 at 22:08
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    'Wind break' is the normal BrE term. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 30 '14 at 22:09
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    Yep, turns out they're listed as "beach windscreens" on Amazon. – Dan Bron Aug 30 '14 at 22:11
  • @Edwin, what's the plural? Can you buy "two windbreaks" (+s)? I ask because here a "windbreaker" (+er) is a kind of light jacket. – Dan Bron Aug 30 '14 at 22:14
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    RHKWebster's has the best definition at freedictionary: windbreak n. a growth of trees, a structure of boards, or the like serving as a shelter from the wind. Yes, it's a count noun. Here is an ad; the ones I've used for 55 years are made from the same material as our deckchairs. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 30 '14 at 22:25

Both my (English) parents and I refer to them as 'wind-breaks'. Windshield like its namesake on a car sounds American. In England cars have windscreens. Windshelter would be fine as that is exactly what you'd be doing on a British beach!

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    +1 All my (native British English speakers) would refer to them as "wind-breaks" and that is the term I have heard overwhelmingly more than any other on British beaches. – Francis Davey Aug 31 '14 at 9:38
  • Precisely. Note the category name; argos.co.uk/static/Browse/ID72/33010851/c_1/… – Richard Aug 31 '14 at 9:39
  • Thank you. This also makes sense, because there's no ambiguity between windshield, windscreen, windbreak, windbreaker and windshelter. – Zack Xu Sep 1 '14 at 9:24

Portable Windscreen, as advertised at MarthaStewart.com.

Since Martha Stewart is a U.S. business woman with an eponymous U.S. business, I suspect this is what it's being called in the U.S.

Screenshot from (US) MarthaStewart.com calling it "Portable Windscreen"

Other terms at Amazon.com in the U.K. call it a windscreen, windbreak, windbreaker, and... windshield.

Screenshot from UK Amazon calling it "Windscreen", "Windbreak", "Windbreaker", and "Windshield"

  • But how often do people call things by the stodgy sounding name used by the seller? – user36720 Aug 31 '14 at 2:20
  • @djechlin At least as often as they go to buy it, unless they're in no hurry and both the buyer and the seller are patient. – Canis Lupus Aug 31 '14 at 2:28
  • Amazon is a bit misleading because they go out of their way to find synonyms – Richard Aug 31 '14 at 9:39

I'm pretty sure people just call them what they look like. "Easel" comes from the Dutch word for "donkey", because at some time someone thought it was sort of like a donkey for a painting. Wind break, block, shield? all acceptable. Probably regional as a result.

My rigorous research:

wind beach google search results

As an aside, I don't get why people go to the beach when it's so miserable you have to bring these things with you.

  • A large number of people who buy these don't actually go to the beach. They remain the the car park next to the beach (I used to live near a particularly busy beach with a grassy car park). – Ben Aug 31 '14 at 6:45
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    Going to the beach in England isn't supposed to be a pleasurable experience - it's an exercise in endurance! ;-) – i alarmed alien Aug 31 '14 at 9:35
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    Many people have to book holidays in advance, so don't get to pick the weather. – Pete Kirkham Aug 31 '14 at 10:40
  • Not only can one not always avoid a windy period, it's often the case that out of the wind, it's actually quite pleasantly warm and sunny. – Andrew Leach Aug 31 '14 at 13:04

They are not so common in the US, so there is not going to be a single, unambiguous term. Walking along the ocean in Cornwall, every little beach had someone selling or renting these, and everyone was out there pounding in stakes. In the US? You sometimes see things more like tents with a wall missing, or umbrellas that adapt to having one edge in the sand, but not these.

So, if you are writing fiction, you might reconsider writing this on a US beach at all. If you're just writing for a US audience, plan to explain and describe it.

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