Hobson's choice


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Hobson's choice: Occam's Razor

Hobson's choice

Something that seems to be a choice but isn't. The phrase refers to British stable owner Thomas Hobson, who was known to act as though he only had one horse to rent to each patron, even when his stable was full. A: "This rental car is terrible." B: "Well, did you want to walk all the way from the airport to the hotel? It was Hobson's choice."
See also: choice

Hobson's choice

the choice between taking what is offered and getting nothing at all. (From the name of a stable owner in the seventeenth century who always hired out the horse nearest the door.) We didn't really want that particular hotel, but it was a case of Hobson's choice. We booked very late and there was nothing else left. If you want a yellow car, it's Hobson's choice. The garage has only one.
See also: choice

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]
See also: choice

Hobson's choice

mainly BRITISH
You can call a decision Hobson's choice when it forces you to choose something because in reality there is no other choice available. He was faced with a Hobson's choice between obedience and ruin, so he gave in to their demands. Only the satellite companies were offering enough money to screen the games, so it was Hobson's choice really. Note: This expression may refer to a man called Thomas Hobson, who earned money by hiring out horses at the end of the 16th century. He had a particular system for using each horse in turn, so a customer was given no choice, even if there were many horses available.
See also: choice

Hobson's choice

no choice at all.
Thomas Hobson , to whom this expression refers, was a carrier at Cambridge in the early 17th century, who would not allow his clients their own choice of horse from his stables as he insisted on hiring them out in strict rotation. They were offered the ‘choice’ of the horse nearest the door or none at all. Hobson's choice is also mid 20th-century British rhyming slang for voice .
See also: choice

ˌHobson’s ˈchoice

the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all, in reality no choice at all: It’s Hobson’s choice really, as this is the only room they have empty at the moment.This expression refers to a 17th-century Cambridge man, Tobias Hobson, who hired out horses; he would give his customers the ‘choice’ of the horse nearest the stable door or none at all.
See also: choice

Hobson's choice

No choice at all, take it or leave it. Thomas Hobson ran a livery stable in Cambridge, England, in the 16th century. He had a simple policy about renting out his horses: you took what he gave you or you went horseless (some accounts say he rented whichever animal was in the stall nearest the door). Hobson's spirit lives on in the joke about a passenger aboard El Al Airlines who asked the flight attendant what the choice of dinner was. She replied with a smile, “The choice is yes or no.”
See also: choice
References in periodicals archive ?
Another Hobson's choice is the "Pledge" to oppose any state sales or income tax.
In February Birmingham had a big success with the premiere of Far from the Madding Crowd, based on Thomas Hardy's novel to a score by Paul Reade, composer of Hobson's Choice, one of Bintley's most popular ballets.
Gluten Free has become a bit of a buzz term and supermarkets are beginning to increase their ranges suitable for wheat intolerance, and restaurants, too, usually have something on their menu, albeit Hobson's Choice.
So when Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned that a shared currency would require "some ceding of national sovereignty," it might have requi sover seemed attractive to nationalists in Edinburgh, where the Hobson's Choice after a Yes vote would be a shared currency or none at all.
Of course local councils will be required to pay a precept, but that amounts to a Hobson's choice for them because they will pay the bill and have no say.
The two-day Winter Folk Festival opens tonight at The Bridge At Napton, featuring 15 acts of all styles including BBC Folk Award semifinalist Charlie Barker, popular local band Harvey, shanty crew Hobson's Choice and talented Oxfordshire trio Scarecrow.
The 2010 election can be summed up as Hobson's Choice.
Instead of more choice we end up with Hobson's Choice.
With both London parties now trying to outscore one another in announcing cuts in services, wage freezes, slashing benefits etc, it is hardly surprising that more and more voters are beginning to think differently and are avoiding this Hobson's choice by switching their allegiance to Plaid.
You, the reader, have Hobson's Choice as to who to vote for in the next election.
Dr Chris Kirk, board member since 1983 and chairman from 1996-2005; Kay Alexander board member from 1996 and John Hawkesley board member from 1988 and former chairman of the Hippodrome Development Trust, joined invited guests, friends and staff before enjoying a performance of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Hobson's Choice.
But despite the Hobson's choice between Kerry and Bush, there is still realistic hope that the UN will be made irrelevant and that American soldiers will never again be sent to war to enforce UN resolutions.
HOBSON'S choice, of course, means having no choice at all.
The Hobson's choice of changing a state law or losing $170 million in federal highway money violates the 10th Amendment, say Tarheel legislators.