In a bus service notice, it is written that "Buses will observe the bus stops on the diversion at Crown Street" What does "observe" mean here? I can't find any meaning in dictionaries which suit such a use. Please.

1 Answer 1


Meaning 2 in the Wiktionary entry for observe is the one you want:

(transitive) To follow or obey the custom, practice, or rules (especially of a religion).

The first example is:

Please observe all posted speed limits.

Here, the meaning is that the buses will stop at the bus stops on the diversion route.

This seems to be transport-operator jargon, and not something one would expect in spoken English, or in a well-written newspaper article. It's an example of the kind of "up-writing" we see when the author feels they need a more formal register, and believes this should be effectuated through illucidity. ;-)

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    That is the meaning all right, but I doubt that any normal native speaker would ever use the word in that way. It is probably bus company jargon. Travellers in British trains get used to being told by railway staff such things as "the next station stop is Cambridge". Nobody at all, other than railway employees, ever uses the term 'station stop' . I doubt that similar consideration apply to buses "observing stops".
    – JeremyC
    Nov 1, 2018 at 23:02
  • Agreed @Jeremy - I've added a couple of sentences to indicate the register. Nov 2, 2018 at 8:15
  • I'm not an English native speaker. Here in the U.S., I see the use of "observe" for the Federal holidays, e.g., "Veterans Day (observed)". Another example is "President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later." (Martin Luther King Jr. Day). I haven't seen such use in transportation but maybe it's just my ignorance.
    – yaobin
    Jan 21, 2019 at 15:51
  • Thanks for all the comments which are truly helpful to a native Chinese like me. Just for those who are interested, the example which I quoted may be found at the link to the bus service notices (reading-buses.co.uk/…)
    – LYF WOO
    Jan 22, 2019 at 8:48

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