phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Hob nob

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 22, 2008 at 09:14

In Reply to: Hob nob posted by Rosemary Spates on September 22, 2008 at 07:55:

: Where dd the expression 'hob nob' originate? Example...
: He hob nobs with the best of them or Carol is hob nobbing with the neighbors.

The examples you give are typical for modern use. In the 18th century (attested 1763), and throughout the 19th, "hob and nob" or "hob or nob", as well as some briefer forms, was used to mean drinking together. An alternative meaning, that is, chatting informally or getting chummy, being familiar with, appeared around 1828 and is the current meaning. (This is according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, s.v. hob-nob.)

An earlier expression may be the source of the phrase. In the 16th and 17th centuries "hab or nab" meant "to have or not have." The expression was used adverbially to mean "get or lose, hit or miss, succeed or fail; however it may turn out..." (See OED s.v. hab.)
SS