SOURCE   (The Ladykillers, 2004)

Marva Munson is taking the sheriff upstairs so she can introduce G.H. Dorr to him, but suddenly G.H. Dorr disappears because he is a thief.

MRS. MUNSON: ...We was just havin' tea, talkin' about Othar--

   The two enter and Mrs. Munson stops short, looking.

   The living room is empty. Even the Professor's teacup is gone.

MRS. MUNSON: ...Hm... Bussed his own dishes. You can always tell a gentleman.

   The sheriff, hat in hand, gazes about.

SHERIFF: Someone was here, ma'am?

MRS. MUNSON: Mm-hm, with me'n Othar.

   Once again, he tries to excuse himself:

SHERIFF: Well, maybe I'll catch him next time...

There are no dishes in this context and I am confused by what these lines really meant.

This is dialogue from The Ladykillers, a 2004 movie.

  • 6
    In restaurants to 'bus' dishes means to clear used dishes and eating utensils from the table to the kitchen to be washed. Ms. Munson means that her lodger cleared his own dishes instead of leaving that job to her. Jul 21, 2017 at 12:03
  • 3
    And if there are no dishes it smacks of an ironic usage: Packed up and went without leaving a trace, did he? What a gentleman (rogue). Haven't seen the movie but given your description of the scene, that's how I'm tempted to read it. It's a witticism. Jul 21, 2017 at 18:03
  • @StoneyB, LukeSawczak You should add those as answers.
    – Dog Lover
    Jul 24, 2017 at 22:44
  • @LukeSawczak Nothing ironic or anything but funny here. There ARE dishes in the context, as anyone knows who has seen the film or read the script. The thief had tea with Mrs. Munson before leaving with the boodle, and cleaned up (bussed) after himself. Jul 24, 2017 at 23:39
  • The missing teacup (and its saucer?) is a dish, in this context. Since the teacup isn't there, Mrs. Munson assumes Dorr took it to the kitchen to be cleaned.
    – The Photon
    Jul 24, 2017 at 23:55

2 Answers 2


The living room is empty. Even the Professor's teacup is gone.

As @the-photon said, the teacup is the dish here.

MRS. MUNSON: ...Hm... Bussed his own dishes. You can always tell a gentleman.

Bussed his dishes - he cleared away his dishes (the teacup). Mrs Munson's comment is that it (carrying his own dishes away, usually to be washed) is something a gentleman would do, rather than leaving it for someone else to tidy up after him.

In North America, a busboy is a person who works in the restaurant and catering industry clearing tables, taking dirty dishes to the dishwasher, setting tables, and otherwise assisting the waiting staff. (Wikipedia)

In North America, the verb to bus means to clear a table (usually of dishes). Other English-speakers who are not familiar with the term could infer the meaning from the context.


There are no dishes

The script mentions a (missing) teacup.

A teacup is a "dish" in this context. A teacup and saucer would even justify using the plural "dishes".

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