Last modified on 24 August 2014, at 23:00



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(1595–1605) From Old English habban (have) and nabban (not have), thus “have or have not”.


hobnob (plural hobnobs)

  1. An informal chat.
    The three friends had a hobnob outside the bar.



hobnob (third-person singular simple present hobnobs, present participle hobnobbing, simple past and past participle hobnobbed)

  1. To associate in a friendly manner, often with those of a higher class or status.
    The ambitious young student hobnobbed with the faculty at the prestigious college he hoped to attend.
    His favorite spot in the club was the bar, where he could hobnob with the big-wigs.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XVII:
      [My old schoolmaster] appeared in the french window, looking cold and severe, as I had so often seen him look when hobnobbing with him in his study at Malvern House, self not there as a willing guest but because I’d been sent for. (“I should like to see Wooster in my study immediately after morning prayers” was the formula.)
    • 2001, Garrison Keilor, Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956
      We are Sanctified Brethren, […] whom God has chosen to place in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, a town of about twelve hundred in the center of the state, populated by German Catholics and Norwegian Lutherans, whom Scripture tells us to keep clear of, holding fast to the Principle of Separation […], which is not such a big problem for my people, because we are standoffish by nature and not given to hobnobbing with strangers. Separation is the exact right Principle for us.
  2. To drink together.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, ch.36:
      Many a glass of wine have we all of us drank, I have very little doubt, hob-and-nobbing with the hospitable giver, and wondering how the deuce he paid for it.


Derived termsEdit



hobnob (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) At random; hit and miss.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holinshed to this entry?)