What is the colloquial name of this type fences? Tape fences?

Internet suggested "retractable belt stanchion set" and "airport fence", but they aren't used only in airports and "retractable belt stanchion set" sounds like a tongue twister, so what do you call them? I'm looking for something more specific than just "fence". Looking up "security fence", it shows solid fences, which is also not what I need.

Sentence example:

  • She jumped over the ______ and ran up to the celebrity.

  • She jumped over the tape fence and ran up to the celebrity.

Does this make sense? As in, would this make you think of the kind of fence shown in the pictures?

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 1
    This question is similar but seems to be looking for a more formal term: What is the name for the ropes used to define queues in theaters etc?
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 15:44
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth: How would the OP determine which, if any, of those answers at the other post offered a "colloquial" word for these things? Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 21:33
  • Do you mean a colloquial term used within the security/airport industry, or a term the general public might use? For the latter, "airport barrier thingies" might be as good as you get, based on other answers/comments.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 13:27
  • @StuartF yes, I'm asking for a term that the general public might use. In my language, "tape fences" is what an ordinary person would call them and be immediately understood by others, so I assumed something similar would also exist in English since those things are quite popular in different places, so it only makes sense that there would be a name for them other than "barrier belt stanchions". And "airport barrier thingies" sounds a bit too silly to use.
    – dee
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 13:49
  • @Tinfoil Hat OP could at least list the answers shown in that question, and give information as to which if any dictionaries list them, as a sign of reasonable research. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 14:19

3 Answers 3


The one in your image is known as a retractable barrier: See

1 Google Image results.

2 Google Ngrams

  1. Google books

The Tesla Conspiracy (Digital Edition): How Far Will They Go 2013

The next kiosk also had a retractable barrier and was also inhabited by a similarly uniformed person, this time a man.

Beyond Repair?: Mayan Women’s Protagonism in the Aftermath by Alison Crosby, ‎M. Brinton Lykes · 2019

There was a media circus at the front of the room at this point, with over 30 cameras (still and video) lining the front of the courtroom, pressing up against the retractable barrier that had been set up to divide the public gallery

His Road Homebooks Anna Richland · 2014

“Be strong and call me from the airport in the morning,” her sister said as she ducked under the retractable barrier.

  • i guess this is the most normal-sounding one, thanks
    – dee
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 17:48

These devices are commonly sold as barrier belts. I have not been able to find a reference that does not include a manufacturer or seller; there are many such and here is one example (not intended as advertising):


enter image description here

Derived reasonably from:

anything used or acting to block someone from going somewhere or from doing something, or to block something from happening

and belt:
a flat strip of material (in a machine that moves along continuously to keep another part turning, or to keep objects on it moving along)

Interestingly, both Cambridge and Merriam Webster associate moving machinery with the use of belt as a flat strip of material. In the airport case, the belt is mobile, but once fixed it no longer moves. In airport use it is a stationary belt.


In crowd control, they are simply called stanchions — short for post and rope stanchions or retractable belt stanchions. You don't have to mention the ropes or belts, unless you need to be specific.

From Queue Solutions:

The correct definition of the word stanchion is an upright bar or post such as a support for a railing. However, the term is commonly used to describe the various form of barriers used to create customer queues (waiting lines). The two basic types are rope barriers and retracting belt barriers.

You can find relevant usage examples at Corpus of Contemporary American English — the stanchions. Here are a few:

She held her hat in one hand; it had come off when she climbed under the stanchions of the Boardwalk.

Today the museum will remove stanchions roping off examples from a second hoard of Benkaim Indian paintings to enter the collection.

The mask's owner insists on the stanchions to keep people back. He doesn't even permit staff to open the case without him present.

Here are a couple from Google Books:

In a millisecond, all thirty of us jumped over the stanchions and swarmed the president. The Secret Service agents started touching the small radios in their ears and talking to one another.
Taking the Lead . . . , Dave Alpern (2021)

When a teenage boy with numerous tattoos tried to cross under the stanchions to jump ahead of the flow of people, rather than walking the zig-zag footpath, a tall male police officer tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to follow him.
Christmas Plus . . . , Shirley A. Franklin (2010)

  • I've checked the first 50 hits in a Google search for 'stanchions', and example sentences in CD, and found no examples of the broadened usage. I'd say it can't be called 'colloquial'. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 14:28
  • @EdwinAshworth: You can see examples of the broadened usage in the examples I provided from COCA and Google Books. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 16:54
  • But numbers are important. Frequency of usage. I'd expect just 'barriers'. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 17:59
  • With stanchions for boats and cows and bridges and windows and events (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanchion), you're not going to learn much from 50 hits of a Google search for "stanchions". Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 18:27
  • Google searches for "stanchions at the airport" and "barriers at the airport" give a reasonable idea of idiomaticity, and switching to image searches shows that there seem to be more false positives for the former. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 19:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.