English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Busses, or perhaps buses

The OED states that both "buses" and "busses" are acceptable plural forms of "bus". Is one generally preferred over the other?

share|improve this question
Beware: busses could be the plural of buss rather than bus. If you don't know, buss means kiss. – GEdgar Nov 16 '11 at 1:18
Or the present tense (3rd person) of to bus. – Taj Moore Nov 16 '11 at 1:49
"The Motor Bus" may have something to say on the matter. – lonesomeday Nov 16 '11 at 10:26
up vote 17 down vote accepted

To be more precise, the citations in the OED’s entry for bus include 2 instances of busses and 9 of buses. In its own commentary, the OED uses buses. The British National Corpus records 1438 instances of buses and 10 of busses. The figures in the Corpus of Contemporary American English are 5139 and 116. I think that means you’re in good company if you use buses.

share|improve this answer

As others have pointed out, buses is far more common than busses.

But I see no mention of the fact that in recent decades, busses is almost exclusively restricted to the computer hardware context, where a bus is a subsystem that transfers data between components inside a computer. For reasons that escape me, buses rarely occurs in the computer context.

EDIT: I'll just add that I worked for decades on computerised systems within the UK public transport industry. Until this question came up I don't think it ever occurred to me that anyone might switch or merge what I'd always thought of as two completely distinct words. But I did sometimes wonder why the computer singular wasn't always spelled buss (as sometimes it was).

share|improve this answer
I think the name of both the vehicle and the electronic interconnect are derived from "omnibus"; the electronic term relates more strongly to "omnibus" than to the vehicle. – supercat Jul 15 at 23:05
@supercat: The full OED has its first cite for omnibus as 1828. The first buss [sic] is only 4 years later. Then there's apostrophized 'bus in 1845, followed by busses in 1851. They don't have plain bus until 1887. When it comes to the electronics use, they've got buss wires in 1887 and copper 'bus' bars in 1888 - under their one-word entry busbar, where OED specifically say compare slightly later omnibus bar. – FumbleFingers Jul 15 at 23:25

Google NGram Viewer shows that buses is more popular than busses.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
For those concerned about Napoleonic bus stations: busses also meant kisses. – TimLymington Nov 15 '11 at 22:36

You will find buses is more popular than busses. Similarly, omnibuses was more popular than omnibusses

share|improve this answer

OALD and CALD each lists the plural of bus as buses but adds that busses is also used in AmE. This agrees with MW which lists both forms. I would go for buses which applies to both variants currently.

share|improve this answer

If the plural of bus is buses, then think about fuses muses abuses excuses ruses.

The vowel in bus is a short vowel and the final consonant should be doubled to show the correct pronunciation.

share|improve this answer
English orthography ‘should’ do a lot of things that it quite consistently does not (and shouldn’t do a lot of things that it quite consistently does). This answer, while logical enough in its premise, does not tally with reality. Also compare ‘discuses’, ‘abacuses’, ‘rhombuses’, etc., where no doubling is ever used. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 10 '13 at 23:00

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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