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See also: hob-nob



From hob and nob, hob or nob (a phrase spoken when making a toast, possibly meaning ‘give and take’; to take turns toasting or buying rounds of drinks) (archaic), from dialectal hab nab (to have or have not, in the sense of an invitation to have a drink),[1][2] from Old English habban (to have, possess) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *keh₂p- (to grab, seize)) + nabban (to not have) (from ne (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ne (not)) + habban).



hobnob (plural hobnobs)

  1. (obsolete) A toast made while touching glasses together.
    • 1823, Jon Bee [pseudonym; John Badcock], “Hob-nob”, in Slang. A Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit, of Bon-ton, and the Varieties of Life, Forming the Completest and Most Authentic Lexicon Balatronicum hitherto Offered to the Notice of the Sporting World, [...], London: Printed for T. Hughes, 35, Ludgate-Street, OCLC 5176110, page 97:
      With a hob-nob, and a merry go-round, / We'll pull in ere reason fail; / For the stoutest man in the kingdom found, / Must knock under to humming ale.
    • 1870 May, “Irish Life”, in The Saint Pauls Magazine, volume VI, London: Strahan & Co., publishers, 56, Ludgate Hill, OCLC 963571888, page 203:
      A prologue of cherry bounce,—brandy,—preceded the entertainment, which was enlivened by hob-nobs and joyous toasts.
  2. A drinking together.
  3. An informal chat.
    The three friends had a hobnob outside the bar.
    • 1865, [James Dawson Burn], “The Cities of America—New York”, in Three Years among the Working-classes in the United States during the War, London: Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill, OCLC 2100580, page 117:
      The American people are largely under the influence of animal magnetism. Whether they are drawn to the levée of a Tom Thumb or to a hobnob with the Russians, the safety-valves of their joyous feelings are sure to be opened when the Stars and Stripes flaunt over their churches, public buildings, and private dwellings.
    • 1873 February 1, “Waifs [from the Irish Builder]”, in The Musical World, volume 51, number 5, London: Published by Duncan Davison & Co., 244, Regent Street, OCLC 317141877, page 69, column 2:
      [T]he musical and dramatic critiques in our daily papers are dishonest, shameful, utterly unworthy, and a scandal to journalism and Ireland! Praise is lavishly dispensed because the system pays, [] 'A full house' on Saturday will procure a longer advertisement on Monday morning, another 'free pass' all round, and a hobnob perhaps with Signor, Senora, Herr Bugle, Madame, or Madamoiselle.



hobnob (third-person singular simple present hobnobs, present participle hobnobbing, simple past and past participle hobnobbed)

  1. (intransitive) To drink together.
    • [1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, “How to Live Well on Nothing a-Year”, in Vanity Fair. A Novel without a Hero, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, OCLC 3174108, page 322:
      Many a glass of wine have we all of us drank, I have very little doubt, hob-and-nobbing with the hospitable giver, and wondering how the deuce he paid for it.]
    • 1884, John Ruskin, “By the Rivers of Waters”, in “Our Fathers Have Told Us.”: Sketches of the History of Christendom for Boys and Girls who have been Held at Its Fonts, part I (The Bible of Amiens), Orpington, Kent: George Allen, OCLC 222616845, pages 30–31:
      When the dinner was a little forward, and time for wine came, the Emperor fills his own cup—fills the Empress's—fills St. Martin [of Tours]'s,—affectionately hobnobs with St. Martin. [] St. Martin looks round, first, deliberately;—becomes aware of a tatterdemalion and thirsty-looking soul of a beggar at his chair side, who has managed to get his cup filled somehow, also—by a charitable lacquey. St. Martin turns his back on the Empress, and hobnobs with him!
  2. (intransitive, often derogatory) To associate with in a friendly manner, often with those of a higher class or status.
    The ambitious young student hobnobbed with the faculty at the prestigious college he hoped to attend.
    His favorite spot in the club was the bar, where he could hobnob with the big-wigs.
    • 1849, George Frederick Ruxton, chapter III, in Life in the Far West (Plains and Rockies; 175), Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 33260992, page 71:
      Here, over fiery "monaghahela," Jean Batiste, the sallow half-breed voyageur from the north—and who, deserting the service of the "North West" (the Hudson's Bay Company), has come down the Mississippi, from the "Falls," to try the sweets and the liberty of "free" trapping—hobnobs with a stalwart leather-clad "boy," just returned from trapping on the waters of Grand River, on the western side the mountains, who interlards his mountain jargon with Spanish words picked up in Taos and California.
    • 1853 October, Jonathan Freke Slingsby [pseudonym; John Francis Waller], “A Night with the Mystics”, in The Dublin University Magazine, a Literary and Political Journal, volume XLII, number CCL, Dublin: James McGlashan, 50 Upper Sackville-Street; London: W[illia]m S[omerville] Orr and Company, OCLC 841086102, page 495:
      Well, you know all about how we dine, and assume, as you may, that we never ate more heartily, hob[-]nobbed more cordially, or interchanged with more frankness and sincerity all the affectionate social amenities which flow from a community of feeling amongst men who are bound together by the great bond of intellectual citizenship, members of the great "mysteries" of knowledge.
    • 1855, “Back at Trinity”, in Charles Dickens, editor, Household Words. A Weekly Journal, volume XI, number 22 (275 overall), New York, N.Y.: J. A. Dix, publisher, office, No. 10, Park Place, OCLC 925538374, page 521, column 1:
      A man who never misused his time here; a Fellow of his Colleges, M.A., Lecturer, Don; [] my name, alas is not upon the board—my poverty, indeed, not will, prevented it, and so beneath his wing I dine at the "high table" with the reverend deans, and hobnob with professors.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XVII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      [My old schoolmaster] appeared in the french window, looking cold and severe, as I had so often seen him look when hobnobbing with him in his study at Malvern House, self not there as a willing guest but because I’d been sent for. ("I should like to see Wooster in my study immediately after morning prayers" was the formula.)
    • 2001, Garrison Keillor, “A Summer Night”, in Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, New York, N.Y.: Viking Press, →ISBN:
      We are Sanctified Brethren, [] whom God has chosen to place in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, a town of about twelve hundred in the center of the state, populated by German Catholics and Norwegian Lutherans, whom Scripture tells us to keep clear of, holding fast to the Principle of Separation [], which is not such a big problem for my people, because we are standoffish by nature and not given to hobnobbing with strangers. Separation is the exact right Principle for us.
    • 2017 October 14, Paul Doyle, “Mauricio Pellegrino yet to find attacking solution for stuttering Southampton: Nothing so far this season suggests the Argentinian will be more successful than Claude Puel in finding the answer to the club’s continuing lack of firepower”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 10 November 2017:
      [A] club that has earned the right to aspire to hobnobbing with European competitors could find itself brawling against relegation.
  3. (intransitive, obsolete, rare) To have or have not; to give or take.
    • c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene iv], page 269:
      He is knight dubb'd with vnhatche'd Rapier, and on carpet conſideration, but he is a diuell in priuate brall, soules and bodies hath he diuorc'd three, and his incenſement at this moment is ſo implacable, that ſatisfaction can be none, but by pangs of death and ſepulcher: Hob, nob, is his word: giu't or take't.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To toast one another by touching glasses. [from early 19th c.]
    • 1828, [William Carr], “[A Glossary of the Craven Dialect.] HOB-NOB”, in The Dialect of Craven, in the West-riding of the County of York, with a Copious Glossary, Illustrated by Authorities from Ancient English and Scotting Writers, and Exemplified by Two Familiar Dialogues. By a Native of Craven. In Two Volumes, volume I, 2nd much enlarged edition, London: Printed for W[illia]m Crofts, 59, Carley-Street, Lincoln's Inn; Leeds: Robinson and Hernaman, OCLC 752480254, page 229:
      I have frequently heard one gentleman, in company, say to another, will you hob-nob with me? When this challenge was accepted, the glasses were instantly filled, and then they made the glasses touch or kiss each other. This gentle striking of the drinking vessels I always supposed explained the term hob-nob.

Alternative forms[edit]


Derived terms[edit]



hobnob (not comparable)

  1. On friendly terms; in friendly association.


hobnob (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) At random; at a venture; hit and miss.


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “hobnob”, in Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ Compare “hobnob”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.