verb (used without object), hob·bled, hob·bling.

to walk lamely; limp.
to proceed irregularly and haltingly: His verses hobble with their faulty meters.

verb (used with object), hob·bled, hob·bling.


Origin of hobble

1300–50; Middle English hobelen, apparently akin to hob protuberance, uneven ground, and to Dutch hobbelen, German hoppeln to jolt
Related formshob·bler, nounun·hob·bled, adjectiveun·hob·bling, adjective

Synonyms for hobble

Antonyms for hobble

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hobbled

Contemporary Examples of hobbled

Historical Examples of hobbled

  • Away he hobbled, and arrived at the house of the head-master.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • With which laconic remark Newman turned round and hobbled away.

  • Her fatigue became so great that she staggered and hobbled about on her numbed legs.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • At last they had got to the end, and they hobbled away, saved—free!

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • He leaned heavily upon his cane as he hobbled back to the kitchen.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for hobbled



(intr) to walk with a lame awkward movement
(tr) to fetter the legs of (a horse) in order to restrict movement
to progress unevenly or with difficulty
(tr) to hamper or restrict (the actions or scope of a person, organization, etc)


a strap, rope, etc, used to hobble a horse
a limping gait
British dialect a difficult or embarrassing situation
a castrated ferret
Also (for senses 2, 5): hopple
Derived Formshobbler, noun

Word Origin for hobble

C14: probably from Low German; compare Flemish hoppelen, Middle Dutch hobbelen to stammer
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 hobbled



c.1300, hoblen "to rock back and forth, toss up and down," probably related to its Dutch cognate hobbelen (which, however, is not recorded before late 15c.).

Meaning "to walk lamely" is from c.1400. Transitive sense of "tie the legs (of an animal)" first recorded 1831, probably an alteration of 16c. hopple, cognate with Flemish hoppelen "to rock, jump," which also is related to Dutch hobbelen. Sense of "hamper, hinder" is c.1870. Related: Hobbled; hobbling. The noun is 1727, from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper