Printable Version
Pronunciation: hah-bi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Pastime, avocation, an auxiliary activity as an end in itself, with no compensation except sheer enjoyment.

Notes: A hobby might become a business, but then it isn't a hobby. A hobby leads nowhere. We have a few derivations from this word. A hobbyist is someone who pursues an activity as a hobby, not work. Hobbyless is said of someone who has no hobby.

In Play: 2020 is a good year to have an at-home hobby: "Having a hobby you can do at home is a boon during a pandemic." Anything we don't take seriously and leads nowhere may be called a hobby: "Cruising the bars in town and flirting with men was Lucy Lastik's favorite hobby."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a shortening of hobby-horse, which refers to a toy horse that is active but goes nowhere. It probably comes from a motherese (child talk) form of 'hobbled horse', since, once hobbled, a horse may bounce around but goes nowhere. Hobble also means "to walk unsteadily" and we find cousins all around the Germanic languages: Dutch hobbelen "to rock from side to side; stammer" and German hoppeln "to walk ungainly, clumsily". It is apparently related to hop. The Germanic word for "horse" seems not to have derived from PIE ekwo-, but kers- "to run". It is also the source of Latin currere "to run, move quickly", the ultimate source of English current. Latin also inherited carrus "wagon" from the same PIE word. Carrus worked its way down to English through French as both car and cart. (Today's Good Word was a thought of Jan Linders, who graciously shared it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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