Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bussing: Cleanliness on a Cart

As of a few weeks ago, I am a service assistant at a restaurant. Basically, that means I bus tables and help carry food out to guests. I am curious to know where the word busing came from and if it has any relationship to bus as a vehicle.

Busing means clearing tables of dirty plates, leftover food, etc. Originally the word for busboy was omnibus, a Latin word meaning “for all.” This term may have applied to people who cleared tables because they bussed all the tables. At the time, omnibus also referred to a horse-drawn carriage predecessor to the motor bus.

The first usage of bus as clearing tables in a restaurant dates back to 1913. It is also possible that the word referred to a four-wheeled cart used to carry dishes.

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