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


hobnob (plural hobnobs)

  1. (obsolete) A toast made while touching glasses together.
  2. A drinking together.
  3. 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 toast one another by touching glasses.
    • 1828, William Carr, Dialect of Craven, in the Westriding of the County of York:
      I have frequently heard one gentleman, in company, say to another, will you hob-nob with me? When this challenge was accepted, the glasses were instantly filled, and then they made the glasses touch or kiss each other.
  2. To drink together.
    • 1884, John Ruskin, The Bible of Amiens, By the Rivers of Waters
      When the dinner was a little forward, and time for wine came, the Emperor fills his own cup—fills the Empress's—fills St. Martin's,—affectionately hobnobs with St. Martin.
    • 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.
  3. 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[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XVII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      [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.
    • 2017 October 14, Paul Doyle, “Mauricio Pellegrino yet to find attacking solution for stuttering Southampton”, in the Guardian[1]:
      a club that has earned the right to aspire to hobnobbing with European competitors could find itself brawling against relegation.


Derived termsEdit



hobnob (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) At random; at a venture; hit and miss.
    • 1616, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night act III, scene iv:
      his incensement at this moment is so implacable that satisfaction can be none but by pangs of death, and sepulchre; hob-nob is his word, give’t or take’t.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holinshed to this entry?)


hobnob (not comparable)

  1. On friendly terms; in friendly association.