- the choice of taking either that which is offered or nothing; the absence of a real alternative.
Origin of Hobson's choice
- the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all
Word Origin and History for hobson's choice
English university slang term, supposedly a reference to Thomas Hobson (c.1544-1631), Cambridge stable manager who let horses and gave customers a choice of the horse next in line or none at all. Phrase popularized c.1660 by Milton, who was at Cambridge from 1625-29.
Idioms and Phrases with hobson's choice
An apparently free choice that actually offers no alternative. For example, My dad said if I wanted the car I could have it tonight or not at all—that's Hobson's choice. This expression alludes to Thomas Hobson of Cambridge, England, who rented horses and allowed each customer to take only the horse nearest the stable door. [Mid-1600s]