Bused, bussed, or bust

Bused, bussed, and bust are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones are a group of words with different spellings, the same pronunciations, and different meanings. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that sound the same, and homophones are commonly misused words. Said aloud, the difference is less important, because the words are pronounced the same. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish between homophones and understand the correct spelling; the words affect-effect are a good example, but the word pairs to, too and two, bridle and bridal, creek and creak, hoard and horde, toed and towed, or horse and hoarse, are indistinguishable from each other and are easily confused and are commonly misused. Pronunciation is usually more ambiguous, as English pronunciation may vary according to dialect, and English spelling is constantly evolving. Pronunciation may change even though the spelling doesn’t, producing two words that are pronounced in the same manner but have different meanings such as night and knight. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word threw is derived from the Old English word thrawan, and the word through came from the Old English word thurh. Homophones are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced alike but have very different usage and etymology. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a homophone in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Homophones are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words bused, bussed and bust, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Bused is the past tense of the verb, bus, meaning to transport on a large vehicle known as a bus. Bused is also used in North America to mean cleared the dirty dishes from a table in a restaurant. The word bused appears as though it should rhyme with the word fused; however, it does not. For this reason, some spell the past tense of bused with two s’s, as in bussed–which is a word that will be discussed later in this article. Related words are bus, buses, busing. The word bus is an abbreviation of the word omnibus; it came into use in the 1830s to describe a steam-powered mode of public transportation.

Bussed is the past tense of the verb, buss, which is a word that means to kiss. However, some spell the past tense of the verb bus with two s’s; this is considered a secondary, acceptable spelling that follows the English convention of doubling the consonant after a short vowel when conjugating a verb. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the verb buss as a North American word; however, it also lists the origin as dating to the 16th century, from the Middle English word, bass.

Bust is used as a noun to mean the chest or upper torso; a sculpture that includes the shoulders and head of the subject; or an arrest of a criminal, especially one involved in drugs. Bust is used informally as a verb to mean to break or burst; related words are busted, busting. The word bust has evolved over time. First, bust came into use in the late 1600s to mean a sculpture that includes the head and shoulders of the subject, from the Latin word, bustum, meaning funeral monument. In the mid-1700s, bust also came to mean a live, human torso. Finally, at the turn of the 19th century, bust came to mean to break or burst; the term was a variant of the word, burst.


About 150 kids from Tijuana were bused to the Mexican consulate in San Diego on Thursday where county nurses administered the Pfizer vaccine. (AP News)

It comes amid concern about asylum seekers being bussed from Dover to a detention centre in Scotland. (Daily Record)

Once safely across the street, I watched as Jennifer bussed the table for two young girls with flawless skin and short skirts. (Los Angeles Magazine)

An Elvis Presley bust that was swiped from a central Illinois bar has been returned after the story of its theft attracted international attention. (Boston Herald)

“Make sure they’re secured in the trunk where nobody has easy access and they can’t bust a window or anything to get to them,” he said. (Exponent Telegram)

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