Between German and English, there are quite equivalent words “Fahrer” / “driver” and “Passagier” / “passenger”.

But German has another word “Insasse” which is used for anyone inside a car or bus, that is driver, passengers, possibly the bus conductor if there is one.

Is there an English word for this at all? (Google explains the word correctly, but then suggests “inmate” which is completely wrong.)

Example in English: In a terrific car accident, the driver and his three passengers died.
Equivalent to the German sentence: In a terrific car accident, all four (Insassen) died.

  • 7
    "Terrific" isn't the correct word to describe a car accident. You want "terrible".
    – Laurel
    Sep 26, 2021 at 20:48
  • 1
    @BoldBen - Occupant may be the nearest English word if there is no exact equivalent (as there sometimes isn't in another language). Sep 27, 2021 at 7:39
  • 3
    @Laurel or Horrific. Sep 27, 2021 at 9:32
  • 1
    @Laurel Unless you really didn't like those people... Sep 27, 2021 at 13:04
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? Hypernym for "driver" and "passenger" Sep 27, 2021 at 15:01

4 Answers 4


In English, we would call those occupants:

occupant noun

a person who is in a car, room, seat, place, or position:
One of the occupants of the car was slightly injured.

Source: Cambridge Dictionary — occupy

Here are some examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English for vehicle occupants:



I'd suggest occupant

a person who is in a car, room, seat, place, or position

  • One of the occupants of the car was slightly injured.

Cambridge Dictionary


Possibly occupant:

a person who is in a car, room, seat, place, or position.

In a terrific accident all four occupants were killed.

  • Calling occupants of interplanetary, most extraordinary, craft
    – CSM
    Sep 27, 2021 at 10:36
  • 1
    BTW, that use of "terrific" is no longer idiomatic. "Terrific" has a positive connotation nowadays; for something negative, use "terrible".
    – nanoman
    Sep 27, 2021 at 16:41
  • @nanoman He must have really hated those 4 occupants. Sep 27, 2021 at 17:59

The U.S. airline industry uses “souls on board” in emergencies, which is more inclusive than passengers and crew, since some people on board may be neither. It does not include cadavers, animals, or unborn babies.

I agree that “occupants” is good for this purpose.


  • 2
    I know it is an established expression, but "souls on board" always struck me as inappropriate in emergencies, because even for nonreligious people a sentence like "unfortunately five of the souls on board were killed in the crash" doesn't make sense (although it is clear what it is supposed to mean).
    – nnnnnn
    Sep 27, 2021 at 2:56
  • My understanding is that "souls" is very specifically meant to distinguish living people from e.g. bodies being transported in the cargo hold. This is important for rescue operations. (I have no idea whether this is the true reason; it wouldn't seem like confusing those would be a very common problem...) Sep 27, 2021 at 6:47
  • The emergency rescue crew would like to be informed about that soulless unborn baby!
    – Stef
    Sep 27, 2021 at 10:09
  • "Soul" has very definite meaning even outside of any religion.
    – fraxinus
    Sep 27, 2021 at 11:48
  • 1
    I sincerely hope the expression "souls on board" is never abbreviated. "The plane crashed with 25 SOBs" just sounds horrible. :)
    – JRE
    Sep 27, 2021 at 13:46

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