Heads or Tails # 3 – Hobby

Skittles has started a new meme for every Tuesday called visit her blog for instructions. Basically she gives us a word and we can do whatever we like with it. That can’t be too hard, can it? This week the subject is Hobby.

The word Hobby is believed to be a by-name of Robin, Robbie or Dobbin and means a small horse used for ambling. By the 1700’s the word became to mean a favourite occupation or topic pursued for amusement which was compared to the riding of a toy horse. An occupation that could amuse for hours.

The Hobby-horse was also part of traditional English Morris dancing and was made of wickerwork and fastened around the waist of the performer who was probably the forerunner of today’s circus clown. Thus the word Hobby came to mean a foolish person, a jester or buffoon. It also could be used in relation to a prostitute or lustful person.

In the Regency period of English history one would use the term Hobby-horsical to describe someone who was devoted to a pastime. Even in my time, in the UK, I have heard it used derisively when telling someone who was going on about something, “Get off your hobby-horse”.

View more participants in the “Heads or Tails” meme.

2 Responses

  1. I had one of those hobby horses when I was little. Of course I “rode” it all over the place imagining myself off on great adventures!

    Thanks for the history of it. 🙂

  2. Now that was a pretty cool, very informative post – as yours generally are though. Who’d a thunk it? Are the rocking horses, with the springs and all attached to them, an offshoot then of the “hobby horse?” My younger daughter got one of the bouncing rocking horses for Christmas just prior to her 2nd birthday (two months shy of it) and she was such a daredevil on it that my Mom was about ready to go into cardiac arrest every time she came over to my house and watched the kid riding that thing! Her brother, on the other hand, who was 2 1/2 years older, was much more reserved in his playtime on it though. Quite the pair those two were back then.

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