• synonyms


  1. a large-headed nail for protecting the soles of heavy boots and shoes.
  2. a small allover pattern consisting of small tufts, as on fabrics, or of small studs, as on glass.
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Origin of hobnail

First recorded in 1585–95; hob1 + nail
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hobnail

Historical Examples of hobnail

  • It was from no less a person than Mr Hobnail, who had taken a great fancy to him.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • We are conjurors, young Hobnail, said the gentlemen, laughing.

  • Hobnail cutting, late 1830, so often confused with diamond cutting.

    Old Irish Glass

    Graydon Stannus

  • Strawberry cutting, so often confused with hobnail cutting; much used from 1780.

    Old Irish Glass

    Graydon Stannus

  • It is also called in England gin-drinker's liver, hobnail liver.

British Dictionary definitions for hobnail


    1. a short nail with a large head for protecting the soles of heavy footwear
    2. (as modifier)hobnail boots
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Derived Formshobnailed, adjective

Word Origin for hobnail

C16: from hob 1 (in the archaic sense: peg) + nail
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 hobnail


1590s, the first element probably identical with hob "rounded peg or pin used as a mark or target in games" (1580s), of unknown origin. See hob. Because they were used to make rough shoes, the word was used figuratively for "rustic person" 17c. and after. Related: Hobnailed.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper