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Cartoon of a "hobbledehoy" William Cobbett enlisting in the army. From the Political Register of 1809. Artist James Gillray.

Alternative forms[edit]


From Scots. Compare dialectal English hobbledygee ((with a) limping movement); also French hobereau (country squire), English hobby, and Old French hoi (today); the original sense may have been "an upstart of today".



hobbledehoy (plural hobbledehoys)

  1. An awkward adolescent youth.
    • 1600, William Kempe, Kemps nine daies vvonder:
      I met a proper vpright youth, onely for a little ſtooping in the ſhoulders: […] & hee tolde me there was a fat filthy ballet-maker, that ſhould haue once been his Iourneyman to the trade: who liu’d about the towne; and ten to one, but he had thus terribly abuſed me & my Taberer: […] I found him about the bankſide, ſitting at a play, I deſired to ſpeake with him, […] Name my accuſer ſaith he, or I defye thee Kemp at the quart ſtaffe. I told him, & all his anger turned to laughter: ſwearing it did him good to haue ill words of a hoddy doddy, a habber de hoy, a chicken, a ſquib, a ſquall: []
    • 1836 March – 1837 October, Charles Dickens, “chapter 28”, in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1837, OCLC 28228280:
      [] all the men, boys, and hobbledehoys attached to the farm []
    • 1886, Jerome K Jerome, “On being shy”, in Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow:
      A man rarely carries his shyness past the hobbledehoy period.
    • 1895, H G Wells, “chapter 12”, in The Wonderful Visit:
      Two hobbledehoys were standing by the forge staring in a bovine way at the proceedings.
    • 1894 December – 1895 November, Thomas Hardy, “part 1, chapter 3”, in Jude the Obscure, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, publishers, [], published 1896, OCLC 3807889:
      And though it do take—how many years, Bob?—five years to turn a lirruping hobble-de-hoy chap into a solemn preaching man with no corrupt passions, they'll do it, if it can be done [...]
    • 1912, Romain Rolland, “Morning, 2”, in Jean-Christophe:
      He was a fair boy, with round pink cheeks, with his hair parted on one side, and a shade of down on his lip. He looked frankly what he was — a hobbledehoy — though he made great efforts to seem grown up.

Derived terms[edit]



Alternative forms[edit]

  • hobbetyhoy, hobbarddehoy, hobbedehoy, hobdehoy, hobbledygee, hobereau, hobby, hoi to-day.


hobbledehoy (plural hobbledehoys)

  1. An awkward adolescent youth.


  • Hobbledehoydom, Juan Martinez, 2004.
  • Wives and Daughters, chapter 8 page 77, Elizabeth Gaskell