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verb (used with object), fobbed, fob·bing.
  1. Archaic. to cheat; deceive.
Verb Phrases
  1. fob off,
    1. to cheat someone by substituting something spurious or inferior; palm off (often followed by on): He tried to fob off an inferior brand on us.
    2. to put (someone) off by deception or trickery: She fobbed us off with false promises.

Origin of fob2

1350–1400; Middle English fobben; cognate with German foppen to delude; cf. fob1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for fobbing


  1. a chain or ribbon by which a pocket watch is attached to a waistcoat
  2. any ornament hung on such a chain
  3. a small pocket in a man's waistcoat, for holding a watch
  4. a metal or plastic tab on a key ring

Word Origin

C17: probably of Germanic origin; compare German dialect Fuppe pocket


verb fobs, fobbing or fobbed
  1. an archaic word for cheat

Word Origin

C15: probably from German foppen to trick


  1. NZ slang a Pacific Islander who has newly arrived in New Zealand

Word Origin

C20: from f (resh) o (ff) (the) b (oat)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fobbing



1650s, "small pocket for valuables," probably related to Low German fobke "pocket," High German fuppe "pocket," "a dialectal word used in Livonia" [Klein]. Meaning "chain attached to a watch carried in the fob" is from 1885.



"to cheat," late 14c., from obsolete noun fobbe "cheat, trickster" (late 14c.), perhaps from Old French forbe "cheat" [OED]. Alternative etymology holds that the word is perhaps related to German foppen "to jeer at, make a fool of" (see fop); or from German fuppen, einfuppen "to pocket stealthily," which would connect it to fob (n.). To fob (someone) off is first recorded 1590s. Related: Fobbed; fobbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper