[ hob-neyl ]
/ ˈhɒbˌneɪl /


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

Nearby words

  1. hobby, oveta culp,
  2. hobbyhorse,
  3. hobbyist,
  4. hobday,
  5. hobgoblin,
  6. hobnail cell,
  7. hobnail liver,
  8. hobnailed,
  9. hobnob,
  10. hobo

Origin of hobnail

First recorded in 1585–95; hob1 + nail

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

Examples from the Web for hobnail

British Dictionary definitions for hobnail


/ (ˈhɒbˌneɪl) /


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper