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

  • n. An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.
  • n. Any of several small falcons of the genus Falco, formerly used for catching small birds or game.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An activity that one enjoys doing in one's spare time.
  • n. An extinct breed of horse native to the British Isles, also known as the Irish Hobby
  • n. Any of four species of small falcons in the genus Falco, especially Falco subbuteo.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small, strong-winged European falcon (Falco subbuteo), formerly trained for hawking.
  • n. A strong, active horse, of a middle size, said to have been originally from Ireland; an ambling nag.
  • n. A stick, often with the head or figure of a horse, on which boys make believe to ride.
  • n. A subject or plan upon which one is constantly setting off; a favorite and ever-recurring theme of discourse, thought, or effort; that which occupies one's attention unduly, or to the weariness of others; a ruling passion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A strong active horse of medium size having an ambling gait; a pacing horse; a nag; a garran.
  • n. Same as hobby-horse, 3.
  • n. Any favorite object, pursuit, or topic; that which a person persistently pursues or dwells upon with zeal or delight, as if riding a horse.
  • n. A small European falcon of the genus Falco and subgenus Hypotriorchis, H subbuteo.
  • n. A goose.
  • n. A stupid fellow.

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

  • n. an auxiliary activity
  • n. small Old World falcon formerly trained and flown at small birds
  • n. a child's plaything consisting of an imitation horse mounted on rockers; the child straddles it and pretends to ride


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

Middle English hobi, hobyn, small horse, hobby horse, perhaps from Hobin, Hobby, nickname for Robert.
Middle English hobi, from Old French hobe, hobel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Shortened from hobby-horse, from Middle English hobyn, hobin ("small horse, pony"). The meaning of hobby-horse shifted from "small horse, pony" to "child's toy riding horse" to "favorite pastime or avocation" with the connecting notion being "activity that doesn't go anywhere". Possibly originally from a proper name for a horse, a diminutive of Robert or Robin (compare dobbin).



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

  • I didn't know a hobby was a bird 'til I read this: "If the walking hadn't been so strenuous, she might have enjoyed the view more, the great rolling swards of chalk grassland stretching out golden in all directions, skies dotted with hobby and merlin, circling, anxious to be off south."

    - The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff, p 95

    June 26, 2010

  • Could be this critter. :-)

    August 26, 2008

  • A type of raptor. Illustrated here.

    August 26, 2008