Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dinner dictionary

Over dessert:

Spoken by a father to a daughter, 'Anyway, you have Hobson's choice, so don't argue.'

Hobson's Choice, no choice, having to take a single offer. [Hobson(d. 1631) hirer of horses]

By Lesa:
And you've called me a tease! I've never heard of Hobson's choice and it made me crazy with curiousity. Since you posted this, I've wondered: Who is Hobson? How did a hirer of horses get his own phrase?.... Thank goodness for Google!

Apparently, Thomas Hobson ran a large stable in Cambridge (UK) in the 1600s. He became tired of the scholars wearing out his best horses so he started rotating all the horses through the stall closest to the door. The renter had the choice of the horse in that stall or no horse.

That is a Hobson's choice. Take it or leave it. Like it or lump it.

Here is a portrait of Hobson, the stable nazi. If a renter complained, I can just imagine him saying: No horse for you! Wonder what Hobson would think of being so irking that he inspired a phrase still used 380 years after his death. Pleased, I'd wager.

So exciting to learn a new phrase especially one originating in England. (yes, I'm an anglophile) Thanks, DeLynne!


  1. Poor girl! Dads can be so aggravating, can't they--- But they mean well.

    I love learning new word/phrases-- hope you consider making Dinner Dictionary a recurring feature.

  2. I like that it looks like he's holding a bag of money. I'll bet he did well in business. We do use the dictionary at dinner pretty often. I'll be sure to post each time.


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