Noun > Omnibus

Noun – Omnibus

This word comes from Latin and literally means “for all.”

The concrete meaning of “omnibus” in English is a bus: a vehicle that carries many passengers.” You don’t hear it too often in the US: “The omnibus waited at the curb.” “The city added ten more omnibuses to its fleet.”

More abstractly, an omnibus is something that has many different parts or pieces, especially a book with lots of different pieces of writing in it.

Omnibus” is an adjective, too, meaning “having many parts or pieces.” These days, we most often talk about an omnibus bill or law, meaning it includes many different laws.

OM nih bus

Part of speech:
Often a noun, the countable kind: “it’s an omnibus,” “they publish omnibuses full of short stories.”
Also an adjective: “this omnibus bill,” “it’s a piece of omnibus legislation.”

Other common forms:
For the plural noun, just use “omnibuses,” unless you’re trying to sound silly or pseudo-intellectual, in which case you can use “omnibi.”

How to use it:
You can refer to a book as an omnibus, or an omnibus of parts or pieces: “I love almost all of these short stories in this omnibus;” “They’ve come out with an omnibus of historical British scandals.”

And, often, you refer to a bill (or a piece or package of legislation) as an omnibus. “They’re set to vote on this omnibus education bill.” “It’s an omnibus spending package.” “They rejected the omnibus bill, then later salvaged the bits they did support.”

It’s generally just books and legislation that you call omnibuses, but you can refer to anything as an omnibus if the metaphor makes sense: that is, if the thing you’re calling an omnibus seems to convey many things at once. The metaphor is pretty cute, I think. You’re saying that the book, the legislation, or the whatever is like a nice roomy bus, with the driver calling “All aboard!” as the components hop on, and together they’re all conveyed somewhere.

“The Illustrious Omnibus of Superpowers is just that — a detailed taxonomy of the various superpowers that comic-book writers have dreamed up in 60 or so decades.”
— Cliff Kuang, Fast Company, 14 April 2011

“The reason for all the spending isn’t a sales spurt or newly opened markets. It’s the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, an amendment that quietly found its way into the omnibus tax bill…signed into law in December.”
— Robert Simonson, The New York Times, 23 April 2018