How to say that something has some technical problem and is therefore not working "Bus is not working" but that suggests the reason why the bus is not working.

3 Answers 3


In your example I'd recommend inoperative [for technical reasons].

In everyday life, depending of the object:

  • inoperative (a service...),
  • unusable (a tool...),
  • defective, faulty (a piece, a device, a component...),
  • broken (pretty much everything).

More specifically, in IT for software:

  • buggy (objective),
  • "rough on the edges" (politically correct),
  • unstable (optimistic).
  • patchy (see etymology of the Apache HTTP server).

If don't want to communicate the fact that something is technically wrong (maybe it's your bus line, and a broken bus is admission of failure), you can use one of the following:

  • Unavailable (very vague)
  • Disabled (could mean intentionally or unintentionally)
  • Offline (could apply to buses)

If you do want people to know something is definitely broken, you can use one of these phrases in addition to the ones Jay Elston has provided:

  • Out of service
  • Down
  • Undergoing Maintenance

If your target audience is familiar with the context (buses, computers, tools, whatever it may be), it's often best to just briefly say what the actual problem is. If the target audience is the general public, "Out of Order" is probably the most typical.

  • Out of Service is a good phrase as well. The phrases I suggested are common in the southwest United States (where I live). I would not be surprised if England, Australia, New Zealand, and other English speaking nations have common phrases for this situation.
    – Jay Elston
    May 20, 2011 at 6:31

Two phrases you may find useful to tell people that a piece of equipment cannot be used at the present time are:

Out of order


Not in service

Out of order implies the equipment is not functioning properly. Not in service is a more general phrase, and can be used situations where the equipment is not working, or it may be working but needs inspections of certifications before it can be used, or there are administrative reasons why the equipment cannot be used. For instance, a bus that is returning to the main bus terminal and not on a regular bus route can display "Not in service" as the name of its route.

  • "Not in service" is better but it sounds nice if before using anything..What if I have already used and in the middle its not working.
    – Rahul
    May 20, 2011 at 5:49

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