What do "M", "G" and "B" buttons mean in an elevator?



What do "M", "G" and "B" buttons mean in an elevator, besides "1", "2", ...? Confusing. Thanks.


Posted 2014-10-22T17:23:10.863

Reputation: 2 631

5Usually, Mezzanine, Ground, Basement – Jim – 2014-10-22T17:25:19.557

3Honestly, only the person who installed the elevator knows for sure! @Jim is right, those are the most common. There is usually a star icon next to the street level, and stops are always in a consistent order. I've seen elevators with more than one "G": Ground and Garage! – Phil – 2014-10-22T17:32:05.397

Good point G is often for garage as well. It will depend on whether there is also a 1 or Street or not. – Jim – 2014-10-22T17:35:13.093

@Phil Is the button for "the street level" only a star "*"? – Tim – 2014-10-22T17:47:30.487

1Ha! That makes me want to relabel buttons as a joke. Use things like "Q", "Ω", and emoticons. – JDługosz – 2014-10-22T18:29:13.963

2This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about standard English usage - it's just one possible set of context-specific one-word abbreviations that have almost no relevance to other contexts. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-10-22T18:30:11.327

7Those buttons have fairly standard meanings, at least here in the US. I think this is on-topic under the "Practical problems you encounter while learning English" section. – ColleenV – 2014-10-22T19:58:38.923

@Tim No, it would usually be the letter and a star, like M*. – DCShannon – 2014-10-22T22:51:31.300

This question appears to be off-topic as primarily opinion-based. Not only is it questionable whether it related to learning the English language, but the answers will vary by locale and building. If there is a reference it should be posted, but even so this is a more of question about elevators than learning English. – user3169 – 2014-10-22T23:59:14.720

3I looked for "elevator buttons" on Google Images and found C, LL, UL, RF, G, M, B, LR, BR, MR, E, F, P, ST, ☆, ★, B through K, ↑, ↓, G1 and G2, LR, ☎, ▷|◁, ◁|▷, F|▷, F◁|, R|▷, R◁|, T, L1 and L2, 1R through 3R, and R1 through R8. I guess it would probably be off-topic if I asked what those all meant . . . :-) – snailplane – 2014-10-23T00:50:00.430

@Tim I don't remember the specifics. That was one confusing elevator. I pressed the wrong button more than once. – Phil – 2014-10-23T17:57:16.503

@snailboat: how did you type in those rare symbols? – Tim – 2014-10-23T17:59:41.573

@Tim I cheated and used Japanese input... :-) – snailplane – 2014-10-24T18:35:18.807

1Readers may also find it helpful to know that in English-speaking North America, the first floor is the ground floor, while in Great Britain, the ground floor is the zeroth. (Aside to computer nerds: then why was C developed by an American and Pascal by a European?) IIRC, Quebec follows French usage with the first floor being above the ground floor, as in England. – Andrew Lazarus – 2014-10-27T18:49:48.033

There are many different storey labeling schemes, but the question is specifically about M, G, and B which have a manageable number of likely meanings. I think whether this is on-topic is a gray area but the information is very useful and it already has an accepted answer, so I think it should stay open.

– ColleenV – 2014-10-29T03:55:50.730



"G" is "Ground Floor". In some countries, the bottommost floor of a building is the ground floor, and the floor above that is the first floor. In the US, ground floor and first floor are used interchangeably, with the next floor up being the second floor.

"M" is "Mezzanine". This is sort of a "half floor" that doesn't extend across the entire span of the building and is therefore not numbered on its own.

"B" is "Basement", the floor below the ground. In buildings with multiple underground levels, the basements are numbered going downward, so the level closest to the ground level is the first basement "1B", the one below that is "2B", and so on.

As @choster points out in the comments, these aren't the only possibilities, depending on the location (metro station, parking garage, etc), but I believe they are the most typical meanings in most standard buildings.


Posted 2014-10-22T17:23:10.863

Reputation: 1 319

15Yes, but. There more than a few buildings in my area where M represents Main, which may also be L (for Lobby), and where the G levels (G1, G2, etc.) represent Garage rather than Ground. In one shopping center, M represents Metro, as there is an entrance to the Metro station. And then within the Metro station, the levels are S for Street, M for Mezzanine, and T for Trains (i.e. boarding platform). It all comes down to what the building management has requested and what the elevator company has installed. – choster – 2014-10-22T17:55:03.130

@choster Does an elevator usually have a list of explanation of what each single letter mean? – Tim – 2014-10-22T18:08:31.713

@choster Good point. I've updated to include that while these are the typical uses, there are other possibilities depending on the building. – Roger – 2014-10-22T18:22:07.397

1@Tim In a building like an office tower, shopping center, or hotel, there is usually a directory or guide to the floors; the elevator buttons would be more or less self-evident. – choster – 2014-10-22T18:38:34.470

I've also been in buildings where the "M" represented "Main" rather than "Mezzanine". – Nathan Osman – 2014-10-22T18:40:51.597

1@choster: you mean a directory or guide outside an elevator? Often times, I don't have time to watch that when I want to catch an elevator, and then I feel not easy to select the buttons. – Tim – 2014-10-22T18:45:56.817

2@choster Requiring an explanatory guide is the opposite of "self-evident". – nobody – 2014-10-22T19:14:35.147

@AndrewMedico The floor names are not self-evident. But once you know the floor names, the elevator buttons should be. – choster – 2014-10-22T20:41:59.600

4Then there is also P, which stands for parking and which is usually used in place of B in my experience, or it can come under B. The main thing is to look for the star; I think this always represents the street level, no matter what letter comes next to it. – None – 2014-10-22T20:49:04.750

In hotels in the US, the 1st floor is often not the ground floor, and the ground floor will be L for Lobby. – hobbs – 2014-10-22T21:57:53.543

And yes, a star represents the floor with the main entrance/exit, whatever that may be. – hobbs – 2014-10-22T21:58:21.570

This is mostly correct, but in 28 years in the US I've never knowingly been in a building where M meant 'Mezzanine'. I was always under the understanding that that meant 'Main'. It's usually where the common areas of the building are focused, like a reception/security desk or some shops. – DCShannon – 2014-10-22T22:54:32.383

In the UK there was a period when "Mezzanine" floors were used for tax reasons and "M" would usually mean "Mezzanine" here rather than "Main", but usages are not consistent. I worked somewhere with floors: G O M 1 2 .. ("O" = "Office"). – Francis Davey – 2014-10-23T06:49:16.803

1I think this answer would be improved by acknowledging a little more strongly (read: front and center, rather than as an afterthought) that these usages are not standardized and can vary dramatically. Also, the star that @CarSmack mentions would be very useful to note, since that actually is more-or-less standardized. – KRyan – 2014-10-23T14:29:07.730

1@DCShannon New York City, at least, has numerous buildings with mezzanines. I have, in fact, been in buildings with multiple mezzanines, often indicated #M, e.g. 2M for the mezzanine level between 2 and 3. I have never seen M used for Main, though I don’t doubt that also happens. – KRyan – 2014-10-23T14:30:33.260

1@CarSmack actually the star marking the main exit level is mandated in the US by the Americans with Disabilities Act, so it should be in every modern building. – ColleenV – 2014-10-29T03:51:38.287

@DCShannon My university (in Dallas, TX) had a building that a mezzanine. The first/ground floor main entrance was an atrium that went all the up to the roof. Then the mezzanine was this walkway at the back of an auditorium. Then the second, third, and fourth floors had classrooms and offices. – miltonaut – 2015-01-14T09:22:09.603


G is Ground. B is Basement. M is Mezzanine. Advanced: SB is Sub Basement. LL is Lower Level. L is Lobby. R is Roof. ★ and a level is Main Level. R is Roof. PH is Penthouse.


Posted 2014-10-22T17:23:10.863

Reputation: 21