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a busman's holiday

a holiday that is really work


busman's holiday = der Arbeitsurlaub --- GOOGLE INDEX busman's holiday: approximately 70,000 Google hits



Pope Benedict XVI takes a BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY

(The National Catholic Reporter)

An aviation engineer had something of a BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY this week when he was called on to repair the airliner bringing him back from a break in Menorca.

(BBC News)

Did you

busman's holiday
noun phrase

- time away from work that is spent doing something that is similar to your usual job

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)


In some respects a busman's holiday is no holiday at all. Some people, particularly those with high profile careers or jobs with major responsibilities, simply don't take vacations. They often have mixed emotions about taking so much time away from their professional duties. The result is usually called a busman's holiday, in which the person spends his or her vacation time doing the same activities as he or she does for a living. A physician, for example, may take a busman's holiday to work in a free clinic in a Third World country.

A busman's holiday often allows professionals to experience life from the perspective of their clients or customers. Instead of driving a bus for a living, a vacationing bus driver can ride the bus as a regular passenger and enjoy the scenery.

According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, the expression originated in the close relationship between horses and their drivers in the days when London's omnibuses were horse-drawn. Many of the drivers would check to see if proper care was used in handling their team of horses during their day off. If he suspected that the substitute driver was negligent in handling the horses, the regular driver might sit among the passengers - without drawing attention to himself - to observe the new driver's behaviour. These rides came to be called busman's holidays.

(sources:, Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins)


"As a cook, going out to eat is too much like a busman's holiday for me."

Thanks to Maria for suggesting today's word!

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