Learn English – difference between timetable and schedule


I'm building an application, that shows schedule/timetable for university students.
I'm confusing, what is the correct word for it: schedule or timetable?
How should I name it?

Here is the result of GitHub search for different queries:

Best Answer

If you look at a dictionary, you'll see that they mean essentially the same thing.

From Merriam-Webster:


1 : a table of departure and arrival times of trains, buses, or airplanes
2 a : a schedule showing a planned order or sequence
b : PROGRAM sense 3


2 : a written or printed list, catalog, or inventory
also : TIMETABLE sense 1
especially : a procedural plan that indicates the time and sequence of each operation
// finished on schedule
4 : a body of items to be dealt with : AGENDA

Note that one of the senses of schedule points to one of the senses of timetable.

Both schedule and timetable also point to program. However, one of the senses of timetable points specifically to the third sense of program, which is:

: a plan or system under which action may be taken toward a goal

So, if context can't determine the difference but you think there must be some difference (there doesn't have to be; it can be subjective), you could use that third sense of program to distinguish between the two.

If going by that third sense of program, a timetable would be a list of events that happens in sequence leading up to or during a certain singular event. Meanwhile, a schedule would be more generalized and describe a recurring series of events.

I personally am more used to hearing about, for example:

A bus schedule but the timetable of a bus trip.
A wedding timetable but the schedule of the church.

With that subtle distinction, I'd be more inclined to say:

A university schedule but the timetable of university registration.
A student schedule but the timetable of the student graduation party.

Using schedule in your example phrases is also supported by your Google hits, which indicate popularity.

But having said that, I don't think anybody would misunderstand or have a problem with the use of timetable either, if that were your preference. (Merriam-Webster itself seems to equally support bus timetable and bus schedule.)