Skittles has started a new meme for every Tuesday called Heads or Tails visit her blog for instructions. Basically she gives us a word and we can do whatever we like with it. That can't be too hard, can it? This week the subject is Hobby.
The word Hobby is believed to be a by-name of Robin, Robbie or Dobbin and means a small horse used for ambling. By the 1700's the word became to mean a favourite occupation or topic pursued for amusement which was compared to the riding of a toy horse. An occupation that could amuse for hours.
The Hobby-horse was also part of traditional English Morris dancing and was made of wickerwork and fastened around the waist of the performer who was probably the forerunner of today's circus clown. Thus the word Hobby came to mean a foolish person, a jester or buffoon. It also could be used in relation to a prostitute or lustful person.
In the Regency period of English history one would use the term Hobby-horsical to describe someone who was devoted to a pastime. Even in my time, in the UK, I have heard it used derisively when telling someone who was going on about something, "Get off your hobby-horse".
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