Hobson’s choice


Hobson’s choice

Meaning | Synonyms

  • given two options when in fact there is only one choice
  • often said to be the same as “take it or leave it”
  • the choice is between taking what is being offered to you or getting nothing at all
  • an obviously free choice that actually offers no other alternative

Example Sentences

  1. This is the dirtiest hotel that I have ever slept in! It is this room or out on the street, it’s Hobson’s choice.
  2. If you want to wear a red dress to the dance it’s Hobson’s choice. There is only one left. You should have come earlier.
  3. If you would like an engineering job after college then you need to move to the bigger cities. It is Hobson’s choice. There are no jobs in small towns.
  4. It’s Hobson’s choice for Rachel; if she doesn’t agree with the new policy, she’ll have to resign from the post.


The phrase is said to have originated in the 1600s. Most sources claim that it can be traced back to a stable manager named Thomas Hobson (1544 -1631) who hails from Cambridge. He would allow people to rent horses from him but gave them the choice of the next one in line or none at all. Some stories even claim that you would have to take the animal that was closest to the door.

It is also mid-20th century rhyming slang for voice.

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‒ Afreen August 28, 2014

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