Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Hobson's choice: Occam's Razor
1. 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."
2. slang The voice. The phrase comes from rhyming slang in which "Hobson's choice" rhymes with "voice." In this usage, "choice" is usually capitalized. Primarily heard in UK. Her Hobson's Choice was as sweet as an angel's.
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.
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]
Hobson's choicemainly 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.
Hobson's choiceno 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 .
ˌHobson’s ˈchoicethe 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.
A choice that represents no choice at all; an enforced decision. The term supposedly originated with the practice of a Cambridge, England, carrier named Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), who insisted that his customers take whichever horse was nearest the stable door. If they refused that horse, he would give them no other. Whether this origin is true or not, the term was adopted and appeared in print in several mid-seventeenth-century sources. It is heard less often today.
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.”