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Coined in this sense by Yule and Burnell in their dictionary Hobson-Jobson. Special use of colonial British slang Hobson-Jobson, any Indian religious observance, especially the Muharram, derived from adapting the call Hassan! Hussein! (حسن حسين (ḥasan! ḥusayn!), a lament for the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad) to Hobson and Jobson, a pair of comic figures popular in the nineteenth century. [1][2]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌhɒb.sənˈdʒɒb.sən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌhɑb.sənˈdʒɑb.sən/


Hobson-Jobson (plural Hobson-Jobsons)


English hoosegow (jail) from Spanish juzgado
English plonk (cheap wine) from the word "blanc" in vin blanc (white wine)

  1. A word or phrase borrowed by one language from another and modified in pronunciation to fit the set of sounds the borrowing language typically uses.
    • 1977, Robert H. Stacy, Defamiliarization in Language and Literature, page 51:
      If the French for pun, calembour, derives (as Spitzer maintained) from "conundrum"; this points up well the at first puzzling effect of such devices. Caran d'Ache is in fact an intentional hobson-jobson.
    • 2003, Jan Venolia, The Right Word!, page 4:
      A Hobson-Jobson turns a difficult word or phrase into something more tractable (or perhaps less offensive). By that route, a Texas river that French trappers had named Purgatoire became the Picketwire, and the Malay word kampong became the English word compound.

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  1. ^
    2010, T. Nagle, “'There is Much, Very Much, in the Name of a Book' or, the Famous Title of Hobson-Jobson and How it Got that Way”, in 'Cunning Passages, Contrived Corridors': Unexpected Essays in the History of Lexicography, Monza: Polimetrica, ISBN 8876992073, page 111–128:
  2. ^
    2014, James Lambert, “A much tortured expression: A new look at Hobson-Jobson.”, in International Journal of Lexicography[1], volume 27, number 1, page 54-88:

Further reading[edit]