Hobson's choice

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n Hobson's choice the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Hobson's choice A choice without an alternative; the thing offered or nothing.☞ It is said to have had its origin in the name of one Hobson, at Cambridge, England, who let horses, and required every customer to take in his turn the horse which stood next the stable door.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Hobson's choice the alternative of a thing offered or nothing, from Hobson, a Cambridge carrier and innkeeper, who insisted on lending out the horse nearest the stable door, or none at all
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Idioms

Hobson's choice - A Hobson's choice is something that appears to be a free choice, but is really no choice as there is no genuine alternative.
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Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr. choixchoisir; cf. Choose.

Usage

In literature:

It seems to be Hobson's choice.
"Derrick Vaughan--Novelist" by Edna Lyall
The so-called preference was Hobson's choice.
"Balzac" by Frederick Lawton
It's Hobson's choice, though.
"A Fascinating Traitor" by Richard Henry Savage
So there's your Hobson's choice; and we'll get at it comfortably in the morning.
"The Leopard Woman" by Stewart Edward White
I expect, indeed, it's Hobson's choice.
"Elizabeth's Campaign" by Mrs. Humphrey Ward
But, in this case, it is Hobson's choice.
"Musicians of To-Day" by Romain Rolland
But why Jonah ever chose this place from which to start his long journey to Tarshish passes my comprehension unless, indeed, it was Hobson's choice.
"With Our Army in Palestine" by Antony Bluett
With him it can only be a Hobson's choice.
"On the Heels of De Wet" by The Intelligence Officer
At present we have only Hobson's choice, stop here we must.
"The Two Supercargoes" by W.H.G. Kingston
It will be rather old-fashioned, but then it's Hobson's choice.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1905 to 1906" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Not even Hobson's choice was open to me.
"The First Violin" by Jessie Fothergill
But, after all, it's a case of Hobson's choice with us; either these nags, or walk.
"The Boy Scouts on Belgian Battlefields" by Lieut. Howard Payson
That was a 'Hobson's choice.
"Jessica, the Heiress" by Evelyn Raymond
Well, it was Hobson's choice.
"The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 25 (of 25)" by Robert Louis Stevenson
These questions naturally occurred to the men themselves, but it came back to Hobson's choice after all.
"Through Apache Lands" by R. H. Jayne
What is Hobson's choice?
"The Handbook of Conundrums" by Edith B. Ordway
I may only have been a country makeshift, and I do not care to be Hobson's choice with any girl.
"Was It Right to Forgive?" by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
Where no real option is given to a person the proverb "Hobson's choice" is suggested.
"Proverb Lore" by F. Edward Hulme
Very well, I have accepted Hobson's choice.
"The Law of Hemlock Mountain" by Hugh Lundsford
It's different with me, a case of Hobson's choice.
"The Second String" by Nat Gould
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In news:

Hobson's Choice is a great name for a bar in this town, and not just because it's also the title to a great David Lean film.
The phrase "Hobson's Choice" is a reference to Thomas Hobson, who was a postal carrier in 1500s England.
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