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.

Example Sentences

He loves to hobnob with celebrities. those two have been hobnobbing together since freshman year
Recent Examples on the Web Originally only letting in glitterati, Régine’s eventually admitted normies at a steep cover to hobnob with the likes of Andy Warhol, Brooke Shields, and Joan Collins. Vulture, 1 May 2022 When Kennedy turned away from Jerome Smith, a Freedom Rider, to hobnob with Harry Belafonte and others, Hansberry took him to task. Daniel Pollack-pelzner, The Atlantic, 21 Nov. 2022 There, Delvey had been hoping to establish a members-only social and cultural club where the crème de la crème could hobnob. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 3 Nov. 2022 Applicants also have to hobnob with the committee at a cocktail reception. Mark Shanahan, BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2022 This networking event is sure to give you some insight – and the chance to hobnob with folks who build festival lineups for a living. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, 14 Apr. 2022 Conceptually, the first season of Moon Knight feels intended less as a TV show and more as an explanation for why viewers would want to watch the character eventually hobnob with Doctor Strange or Blade or whomever. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2022 Albright also appeared as herself in the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau in a scene in which several real-life political figures hobnob with Matt Damon's congressman character. Grayson Quay, The Week, 23 Mar. 2022 When basketball’s best gather in Cleveland to dunk, fire 3-pointers and hobnob with corporate partners as the league celebrates its 75th anniversary this weekend, another group of players will get a chance to shine amid the glittering stars. Tom Withers, baltimoresun.com, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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 28 Mar. 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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