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Hob Nob

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A corruption of hab nab, meaning “have or not have,” hence hit or miss, at random; and, secondarily, give or take, whence also an open defiance. A similar construction to willy nilly. (Anglo-Saxon, habban, to have; nabban, not to have.)

“The citizens in their rage shot habbe or nabbe [hit or miss] at random.”—Holinshed: History of Ireland.


“He writes of the weather hab nab [at random], and as the toy [fancy] takes him, chequers the year with foul and fair.”—Quack Astrologer (1673).


“He is a devil in private brawls … . hob nob is his word, give ʹt or take ʹt.”—Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, iii. 4.


Not of Jack Straw, with his rebellious crew.


That set king, realm, and laws at hab or nab [defiance].” Sir J. Harington: Epigram, iv.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Hobbinol
Hobbism
Hobbler
Hobby
Hobby-horse
Hobedy-hoig
Hobgoblin
Hobinol
Hoblers or Hovellers
Hobnail
Hob Nob
Hob’s Pound
Hobson’s Choice
Hock
Hock Cart
Hock-day or Hock Tuesday
Hockey
Hocking
Hockley-i-the-Hole
Hocus Pocus
Hocussed

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