hob·​nob | \ ˈhäb-ˌnäb How to pronounce hobnob (audio) \
hobnobbed; hobnobbing

Definition of hobnob

intransitive verb

1 archaic : to drink sociably
2 : to associate familiarly

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hobnob

hobnobber noun

Hobnob and Shakespeare

Hob and nob first came together in print in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, when Sir Toby Belch warns Viola (who is disguised as a man) that Sir Andrew wants to duel. "Hob, nob is his word," says Sir Toby, using hob and nob to mean something like "hit or miss." Sir Toby's words are probably from the term habnab (also styled as a phrase: hab or nab), which meant "in one way or another" or "however it may turn out." After Shakespeare's day, hob and nob became established in the phrase to drink hobnob (also styled as to drink hob or nob), which meant "to drink alternately to each other." Since "drinking hobnob" was generally done among friends, hobnob came to refer to congenial social interaction.

Examples of hobnob in a Sentence

He loves to hobnob with celebrities. those two have been hobnobbing together since freshman year

Recent Examples on the Web

Like the annual NBA London Game, celebs came out to hobnob with players, from Spike Lee and Rudy Giuliani to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who visited each team's locker room before Saturday's game. Motez Bishara, CNN, "MLB London Series: Yankees crush Red Sox as league comes out winning," 1 July 2019 On Friday night, Biden will hobnob with donors at the San Francisco and Belvedere homes of two major Obama bundlers, Doug Hickey and Leni Eccles. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "California 2020 Countdown: Biden heads to the Bay Area," 27 June 2019 Doug Deason, another prominent Trump donor, explained one reason: Visiting Trump's hotel often means hobnobbing with officials in Trump's government, who treat the lobby as a friendly hangout. Anchorage Daily News, "Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him," 21 June 2019 There’s plenty of hobnobbing to be found at Espressit, which is located on a walkable stretch of Haddon Avenue where strip malls and auto-centric businesses collide with traditional retail blocks. Kevin Riordan, Philly.com, "Not just another java joint, Westmont's Espressit is up for sale," 2 July 2018 Taciturn and deeply conservative, Cox is not a politician who seems open to hobnobbing with Democrats. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, "How a reshaped Virginia legislature learned to love Medicaid expansion," 4 June 2018 Imagine the uproar if the FBI during President Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020 gets caught using an informant to hobnob with the campaign staff of, say, Sen. Bernie Sanders. WSJ, "On the FBI’s Informant Who Wasn’t a Spy," 28 May 2018 Those security checks are a requirement for anyone who wants to hobnob with the president, even the Far Hills Country Day School celebrating their eighth-grade graduation at Trump National in Bedminster on Friday night. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "Donald Trump, Wedding Guest: Two Brides on Hosting the Wedding-Crasher-in-Chief," 15 June 2017 Aside from screenings, panels, cocktails and the chance to hobnob with stars, Los Angeles and New York are wallpapered with billboards, streetlight banners and bus-shelter ads ahead of Monday's start of the two-week voting period for 2018 nominees. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Zach Galifianakis serves Arby's? The insane explosion of Emmy campaigning," 6 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of hobnob

1813, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hobnob

from the obsolete phrase drink hobnob to drink alternately to one another

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hobnob

Listen to Our Podcast about hobnob

Dictionary Entries near hobnob



hobnail boot





Statistics for hobnob

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hobnob

The first known use of hobnob was in 1813

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hobnob



English Language Learners Definition of hobnob

: to spend time with someone (such as a famous or wealthy person) in a friendly way

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hobnob

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hobnob

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hobnob

Spanish Central: Translation of hobnob

Nglish: Translation of hobnob for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hobnob

What made you want to look up hobnob? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!