hob·​by·​horse | \ ˈhä-bē-ˌhȯrs How to pronounce hobbyhorse (audio) \

Definition of hobbyhorse

1a : a figure of a horse fastened about the waist in the morris dance
b : a dancer wearing this figure
2 obsolete : buffoon
3a : a stick having an imitation horse's head at one end that a child pretends to ride
c : a toy horse suspended by springs from a frame
4a : a topic to which one constantly reverts

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Synonyms for hobbyhorse


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Did You Know?

The hobbyhorse is a toy of yesteryear, dating back to a homespun era predating automobiles. In the 1400s, the word hobby could refer to a real-life horse of small or average size. It soon came to refer to the horse costume worn by one participating in a morris dance or burlesque performance, and then, later, to the child's toy. Another meaning of hobbyhorse was "a favorite pursuit or pastime"; our modern noun hobby ("an activity that one does for pleasure when not working") was formed by shortening this word. From "pastime," the meaning of hobbyhorse was extended to "a subject to which one repeatedly returns." The sense is typically encountered as part of such metaphorical phrases as "get on one's hobbyhorse" or "ride one's hobbyhorse."

Examples of hobbyhorse in a Sentence

Once he gets on his hobbyhorse and starts talking about taxes, you can't get him to discuss anything else. She's been riding that hobbyhorse for months.
Recent Examples on the Web She has been mentioned as a potential primary challenger in 2022 to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader — an idea that is a particular hobbyhorse of Mr. Trump’s. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "For A.O.C., ‘Existential Crises’ as Her District Becomes the Coronavirus Epicenter," 4 May 2020 There are also the hobbyhorses: school choice (pro), the mayor (con), bike lanes (rabidly averse), pervy teachers languishing in rubber rooms (averse to the point of obsession). Sadie Stein, Town & Country, "Sadie Stein Is a New York Post Subscriber—and She Doesn't Care What You Think About It," 30 May 2017 Girls have always loved horses, but in lieu of a real equine companion, maybe a hobbyhorse will do. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: Tennis teacher, hobbyhorse riders, music makers," 19 Apr. 2018 But if the abolition of ICE becomes not just a left hobbyhorse but a core part of what progressives will ask of their candidates for 2020, that’s going to be a harder choice for Democratic politicians to make. Dara Lind, Vox, "“Abolish ICE,” explained," 19 Mar. 2018 The script by South African actress Le Clanché du Rand opens in a room with a hat rack, a couple of trunks, a hobbyhorse and the iconic wardrobe, portal to a land outside human time. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "Can just two actors do all the kids and animals of Narnia for Children’s Theatre? | Charlotte Observer," 9 Mar. 2018 What followed in the State Dining Room was a fascinating back-and-forth between Trump and other governors of both parties over what has become the president’s hobbyhorse since the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., two weeks ago. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump gets a seminar on federalism as governors push back on arming teachers," 27 Feb. 2018 Annoyed that Leopold had chosen to remain in Belgium, Churchill was still riding his hobbyhorse of anger at the European neutral countries for not joining Britain and France in preinvasion military alliances. Longreads, "Whose Fault Was Dunkirk?," 7 Aug. 2017 Like a real horse and its rider, the hobbyhorse and its master form a team and become attached to each other. Jari Tanner, The Seattle Times, "Hobby-horsing craze in Finland manifestation of girl power," 30 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hobbyhorse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hobbyhorse

circa 1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hobbyhorse

hobby small light horse, from Middle English hoby, hobyn, perhaps from Hobbin, nickname for Robert or Robin

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Time Traveler for hobbyhorse

Time Traveler

The first known use of hobbyhorse was circa 1553

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Cite this Entry

“Hobbyhorse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobbyhorse. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for hobbyhorse



English Language Learners Definition of hobbyhorse

: a subject that someone speaks about or complains about often
: a stick with a horse's head at one end that a child pretends to ride


hob·​by·​horse | \ ˈhä-bē-ˌhȯrs How to pronounce hobbyhorse (audio) \

Kids Definition of hobbyhorse

: a stick that has an imitation horse's head and that a child pretends to ride

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