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

intransitive verb

archaic : to drink sociably
: to associate familiarly
hobnobber noun

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Hobnob and Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch warned Viola (who was disguised as a man) that Sir Andrew wanted to duel. "Hob, nob is his word," said Sir Toby, using "hob, nob" to mean something like "hit or miss." Sir Toby's term is probably an alteration of "hab nab," a phrase that meant "to have or not have, however it may turn out." After Shakespeare's day, hob and nob were used in the phrases "to drink hob or nob" and "to drink hobnob," 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 As recorded in this sketch-like, impressionistic travel journal, the philosopher-novelist spent two exhausting months in 1949 lecturing and hobnobbing with local literary elites. Albert Camus, Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 But the optics are tricky since Youngkin will spend precious time in the state election’s homestretch hobnobbing with out-of-state donors, some with no clear interest in Virginia. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, 30 Sep. 2023 The titular magazine, which pairs feminist journalism with full frontal male photo spreads, is thriving, turning Joyce into a minor celebrity who hobnobs with Linda Ronstadt, Gloria Steinem, and other icons of the period. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 21 July 2023 Two years later, Los Angeles Magazine published a damning exposé about Ali, asserting that his use of influence might stretch beyond saving elephants via online activism and include hobnobbing his way to fatty loans and free rent from the Hollywood and political elite. Emily St. Martin, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2023 At last year’s LIV event in Bedminster, N.J., al-Rumayyan hobnobbed with former President Donald J. Trump, the course’s owner. John Branch, New York Times, 12 June 2023 Anyone who’s anyone seemed to flock to Kives’ estate to save the world while hobnobbing, and many appeared to depart with a major takeaway: a Skims swag bag. Emily St. Martin, Los Angeles Times, 27 May 2023 Beyond the panels, dealmakers are expected to hobnob in suites at the Hilton and the neighboring Waldorf Astoria. Min Jeong Lee, Fortune, 29 Apr. 2023 Michel first met Malaysian financer Low Taek Jho in 2006, when the businessman usually known as Jho Low was dropping huge sums of money and hobnobbing with the likes of Paris Hilton. Lindsay Whitehurst, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hobnob.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1813, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hobnob was in 1813


Dictionary Entries Near hobnob

Cite this Entry

“Hobnob.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobnob. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hob·​nob ˈhäb-ˌnäb How to pronounce hobnob (audio)
hobnobbed; hobnobbing
: to associate in a friendly manner
hobnobbing with politicians
hobnobber noun

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