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noun, plural hob·bies.
  1. an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.
  2. a child's hobbyhorse.
  3. Archaic. a small horse.
  1. ride a hobby, to concern oneself excessively with a favorite notion or activity.Also ride a hobbyhorse.

Origin of hobby1

1325–75; Middle English hoby(n), probably for Robin, or Robert (cf. hob2), used as horse's name, as in dobbin
Related formshob·by·ist, nounhob·by·less, adjective


noun, plural hob·bies.
  1. a small Old World falcon, Falco subbuteo, formerly flown at such small game as larks.

Origin of hobby2

1400–50; late Middle English hoby < Middle French hobé, suffixal variant of Middle French, Old French hobel (compare French hobereau), probably noun derivative of hobeler to skirmish, harass, perhaps < Middle Dutch hob(b)elen to turn, roll; compare Dutch hobbelen to rock, jolt (cf. hobble)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for hobbies


noun plural -bies
  1. an activity pursued in spare time for pleasure or relaxation
  2. archaic, or dialect a small horse or pony
  3. short for hobbyhorse (def. 1)
  4. an early form of bicycle, without pedals
Derived Formshobbyist, noun

Word Origin

C14 hobyn, probably variant of proper name Robin; compare dobbin


noun plural -bies
  1. any of several small Old World falcons, esp the European Falco subbuteo, formerly used in falconry

Word Origin

C15: from Old French hobet, from hobe falcon; probably related to Middle Dutch hobbelen to roll, turn
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 hobbies



late 13c., hobyn, "small horse, pony," later "mock horse used in the morris dance," and c.1550 "child's toy riding horse," which led to hobby-horse in a transferred sense of "favorite pastime or avocation," first recorded 1670s, shortened to hobby by 1816. The connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere." Probably originally a proper name for a horse (cf. dobbin), a diminutive of Robert or Robin. The original hobbyhorse was a "Tourney Horse," a wooden or basketwork frame worn around the waist and held on with shoulder straps, with a fake tail and horse head attached, so the wearer appears to be riding a horse. These were part of church and civic celebrations at Midsummer and New Year's throughout England.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper