from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small pocket at the front waistline of a man's trousers or in the front of a vest, used especially to hold a watch.
  • noun A short chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch and worn hanging in front of the vest or waist.
  • noun An ornament or seal attached to such a chain or ribbon.
  • transitive verb To cheat or deceive (another).

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A little pocket made in the waist-band of men's breeches or trousers as a receptacle for a watch.
  • noun A watch-chain, or ribbon with buckle and seals or the like, such as is worn appended to the watch and hanging from the fob.
  • noun A tap on the shoulder, as from a bailiff.
  • noun A cheat.
  • To breathe hard or with heaving sides; gasp from violent running.
  • To cheat; trick; impose upon.
  • To beat; maltreat.
  • To pass off by a false representation; dispose of by deception: as, to fob off a worthless article on a customer.
  • noun Froth or foam.
  • To put into a fob; pocket; get possession of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To beat; to maul.
  • transitive verb To cheat; to trick; to impose on.
  • transitive verb to shift off by an artifice; to put aside; to delude with a trick."A conspiracy of bishops could prostrate and fob off the right of the people."
  • noun A little pocket for a watch; -- callled also a watch pocket.
  • noun a short chain or ribbon attached to a pocket watch, usually worn hanging out of the watch pocket, and used to conveniently remove the watch from the watch pocket.
  • noun a short watch chain worn with a watch carried in the fob; a fob{2}.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A little pocket near the waistline of a pair of trousers or in a waistcoat or vest to hold a pocketwatch; a watch pocket.
  • noun A short chain or ribbon to connect such a pocket to the watch.
  • noun A small ornament attached to such a chain. (See Usage Notes below)
  • noun A hand-held remote control device used to lock/unlock motor cars etc.
  • verb transitive, archaic To cheat, to trick, to take in, to impose upon someone.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun short chain or ribbon attaching a pocket watch to a man's vest
  • noun an adornment that hangs from a watch chain
  • verb deceive somebody
  • noun a vest pocket to hold a pocket watch


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Probably akin to Low German Fobke, small pocket.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English fobben, probably from fob, trickster.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

German foppen ("to mock")


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word fob.


  • As far as I can tell, locking the car with the fob is a bad idea.

    Adventures in car trouble, Finale: The DMV's last cheap shot at making our life hell joshenglish 2008

  • At the Jewelry table, Adam Patrick of A La Vielle Russie, Inc. examines an Elks fob from the early 20th century.

    Boing Boing 2009

  • Ben brought a Pogo animation cel for appraisal and his colleague Jessica Lewis had a Elks Club fob from the early part of last century.

    Boing Boing 2009

  • The story itself is interesting, but the part that stuck out was this gadget, called a "raskat" device, which comes with a wireless keychain fob that can remotely trigger the destruction of data on a computer hard drive.

    Boing Boing 2008

  • The out of place plushie speaks of a summer love and heart break at Christmas, the gnarly key fob is from a friend who drove into a bridge abutment, and the plastic dog dish in a house with no dogs speaks of the dog that ran away at the cottage.

    Astrology and the Kitchen 2008

  • Bruce Schneier's op-ed on CNet about identity theft talks about why "two-factor" authentication (e.g. having to enter a password and a number that you read off of a little keychain fob) is useful for lots of things, but not for preventing identity theft.

    Boing Boing: April 10, 2005 - April 16, 2005 Archives 2005

  • Great Wired News article about TV B-Gone, a keychain fob that you can use to turn off bothersome TVs in bars, airports, etc.

    Boing Boing: October 17, 2004 - October 23, 2004 Archives 2004

  • TV-B-Gone is, according to NYT, a $14.99 keychain fob that is "Essentially a one-trick remote control [that] quickly spits out roughly 200 infrared codes and, within customary remote-control range, turns off most televisions in a few seconds."

    Archive 2004-11-01 2004

  • The RFBug is a little pink keychain fob with an LED inside that blinks furiously when it's brought into range of radio frequencies between 1MHz and 2. 5GHz -- your basic data/cellular/cordless phone spectrum.

    Boing Boing: January 27, 2002 - February 2, 2002 Archives 2002

  • I don’t remember who did it – it may have been on SNL – but there was a great skit several years back about what would happen if, instead of car alarms setting off the car’s horn, they sent a signal to a keychain fob which shocked the owner.

    It does the opposite of what you installed it to do, jerk. 2009


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Now the Cinque Ports are partially or somehow under the jurisdiction of a sort of policeman or beadle, called a Lord Warden. Holding the office directly from the crown, I believe, all the royal emoluments incident to the Cinque Port territories become by assignment his. By some writers this office is called a sinecure. But not so. Because the Lord Warden is busily employed at times in fobbing his perquisites; which are his chiefly by virtue of that same fobbing of them.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 90

    July 29, 2008

  • fob - pocket

    fobbing - pocketing

    now, the question is whether the current term 'to pocket' someone's possessions takes after 'to fob', or whether it's an obvious phrase, independently arisen.

    June 19, 2009