Bust is a noun.

It can mean the area around the chest, usually of a woman.

Bust can also be used as a word for a small statue, usually showing the head and shoulders of the subject. And it is a term which has come to denote a large-scale arrest, often related to drugs. However, it should not be used as a verb in place of “burst” or “hit”.


To wit:

You may report that a police bust took place. However, it is important to note that police arrested people during the bust.

Female police officers might complain that their bullet-proof vests are too tight in the bust area, and that they dislike wearing them when they go on a bust. However, they too, arrest people. Or maybe detain them for a short time.

This same bust may turn up a stolen bust of a famous figure. And the leader of the criminals (Let’s call him Buster) may have planned to break the small statue by hitting an officer in the chest with it.

However, then, if you weren’t careful, you might be required to report “During the bust, police report that gang leader Buster threatened to bust someone’s bust with the bust instead of allowing himself to be busted.”

And no one, as the kids say, has any time for that.

Police arrest and detain. Sometimes they question.

Water mains collapse. They explode. They catastrophically fail. They even burst. The do not ever, ever bust.

So please, unless you are reporting on a person’s chest area, a small statue, or a large scale arresting event, never, ever use the word “bust.”


To be fair, language is a living thing. Therefore, you are well within your rights to pass on the simple instructions of Young MC and “bust a move.”

An Excerpt From: David Sedaris, “Me Talk Pretty One Day.”

“Amy denied that she was bored and lonely. The problem, she said, was that she was hungry. “All I had on the plane were a couple of Danish. Can we go out for pancakes?”

The noun “Danish” (rather than the national affiliation) has always confused me. For instance, I know in the passage above that – Amy Sedaris’ sexual history not withstanding – that she is here referring to having eaten approximately two croissant/cream cheese wads on an airplane. So here is the question…

Data is, despite what many will argue, the plural of datum. The same does not hold true for the word Danish. "The data suggest that Amy ate more than one croissant/cream cheese wad and less than three of them.“

However, when ordering, most people use this plural noun singularly … "After finishing her first, Amy asked the flight attendant if she could have another cream cheese Danish.”

No reasonable person would suggest that Amy ordered two cream cheese Danishes. In fact, oftentimes, Danish is used in a more collective sense … “Amy was happy that the plane offered unlimited refills on coffee and Danish.”

My purpose here is not to call David Sedaris’ grammar and usage to task. On the contrary, I find his essays to be a joyful demonstration of how wit is made wittier when the writer has the technical chops to write precisely what he or she means to say.

Instead, I’d like to get a handle on when and how Danish came to be used in both singular and plural senses simultaneously.