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

Synonyms for hobbyhorse


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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 a person participating in a morris dance or a burlesque performance, and then, later, to the child's toy. Another meaning of hobbyhorse was "a favorite pursuit or pastime"; our modern noun hobby (referring to 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 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 Speculation about why this might be so tends to reflect the hobbyhorse of the speculator. Zoë Heller, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2022 Donbas has served variously as a bargaining chip with Western powers, a cudgel to hold over them, a hobbyhorse for the home audience and an albatross. New York Times, 16 Jan. 2022 In Finland, hobbyhorse riding, according to The Wall Street Journal, is a growing sport that involves young girls riding fake horses, made of cloth or plastic horse heads attached to sticks. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, 9 May 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 9 Mar. 2018 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of hobbyhorse was circa 1553

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Dictionary Entries Near hobbyhorse



hobby lantern

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Last Updated

9 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hobbyhorse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobbyhorse. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hobbyhorse


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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