Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



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.

"Such situations essentially confront families with a Hobson's choice: either they stand by and allow a loved one to waste away, or else they act to hasten death, with all the guilt and recrimination that entails."
Nancy Gibbs, Love and Let Die, In an era of untamed medical technology, how are patients and families to decide whether to halt treatment, Time, 19 Mar 1990.

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


When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith