Definition of Hobson's choice in English:

Hobson's choice


  • A choice of taking what is available or nothing at all.

    ‘the regional council must decide whether a private toll bridge is better than no bridge at all—it's a Hobson's choice’
    • ‘It looks like Hobson's choice for local councils lose your toilets now, or be forced to close them in three years' time.’
    • ‘Army senior leaders must not be placed in a position where the choice between manpower and long-term modernization/readiness is a Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘There is not simply a Hobson's choice between free trade and no trade.’
    • ‘This is a cruel Hobson's choice that women will be forced to confront.’
    • ‘I relished the opportunity to cook whatever I wanted when I chose, instead of having to take Hobson's choice of a warmed-over plate of fried rice back at the boardinghouse before the kitchen closed at 10 p.m.’
    • ‘It is as if the diplomatic option given is Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘Today, Begg has been offered a Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘But Hobson's choice is no choice.’
    • ‘The choices they made were mostly Hobson's choices.’
    • ‘Home furnishings became a Hobson's choice: mom's living room set and a yard-sale dining room table.’
    • ‘Instead, the viewer gets this Hobson's choice: either torturous dubbing or no sound at all.’
    • ‘For many film-makers, handycams are a Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘Given this Hobson's choice, more than 100 families opted to lease.’
    • ‘Hence, a Hobson's choice was not a choice at all.’
    • ‘And why are we only offered this Hobson's choice of slowing down our decline instead of reversing it?’
    • ‘This gives transit planners a Hobson's choice: fewer buses equals infrequent service equals inconvenience equals no riders; frequent service means paying a bundle to run near-empty buses.’
    • ‘But it's a Hobson's choice - if you invest in a country like Burma, you create problems.’
    • ‘They resent the fact that they will basically be given Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘And attracting private investors to the state came to be the Hobson's choice.’
    • ‘‘That's the Hobson's choice you get when you hand juries these giant cases,’ he says.’


Mid 17th century: named after Thomas Hobson (1554–1631), a Cambridge carrier who hired out horses, giving the customer the ‘choice’ of the one nearest the door or none at all.


Hobson's choice