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A.Word.A.Day--Hobson's choice

Pronunciation RealAudio

Hobson's choice (HOB-suhnz chois) noun

The choice of taking what is offered or none; an apparently free choice with no acceptable alternative.

[After T. Hobson (1544-1631), a liveryman who offered his customers the choice of renting the horse near the stable door or none at all.]

While it seems like Mr. Hobson could use a bit of training in "customer service", he was fair in his way and made sure all his animals received equal opportunity. His stable had a variety of horses and Hobson's choice ensured that all have had equal rest instead of a few favorites getting all the wear and tear. On the other hand, maybe he didn't have to go to any of the extremes. He could have offered his customers the choice of taking one of the four horses near the stable door, for example.

"But Russia faced a Hobson's choice between a bad treaty or no treaty at all - between accepting a lightweight treaty that allows maximum flexibility for both the United States and Russia or risking the complete demise of the nuclear arms reduction treaty regime."
Andrew C Kuchins; Explaining Mr. Putin: Russia's New Nuclear Diplomacy;
Arms Control Today (Washington, DC); Oct 2002.

"We are frequently told that the Hobson's choice presented by the Lebanese morass is: either soldiers die in the security zone, or civilians will die in Israel's North."
Uri Dromi; Syrian Accountability; Jerusalem Post (Israel); Nov 30, 1998.

This week's theme: words of horse-related origins.

X-Bonus

Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas, ease after war, death after life does greatly please. -Edmund Spenser, poet (1552-1599)

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