One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A flat metal shelf at the side or back of a fireplace, having its surface level with the top of the grate and used especially for heating pans.
- ‘In Granny Kilpatrick's cookhouse stood a great black stove and all the pots sat around on the big white hobs.’
- ‘Inside the original rafters and walls are adorned by two splendid hobs over a fireplace.’
- ‘It began to respond to the demands of Britain's burgeoning towns and cities for cast iron - for rainwater goods, street furniture, fireplaces, hobs and grates and all manner of other items.’
- 1.1British A cooking appliance, or the flat top part of a stove, with hotplates or burners.
2A machine tool used for cutting gears or screw threads.
- ‘The hob is composed of cutter blades and a hob head.’
- ‘Once you have used a hob to cut a gear you will wonder why you would use anything else!’
Late 16th century (in hob (sense 3 of the noun)): alteration of hub. hob (sense 1 of the noun), ‘metal shelf by a fireplace’, dates from the late 17th century.
1A male ferret.Compare with gill (sense 1)
- ‘Hobs are usually bigger than jills but the personalities vary little between the sexes.’
- ‘She should be in full season for 2 weeks before being put with a hob.’
2British dialect, archaic A sprite or hobgoblin.
- ‘It has been the haunt of the mischievous, mythical hobs.’
- ‘During the festival, local residents and businesses will take part in a competition to decorate their homes, gardens and shop fronts with home made boggarts, wood spirits, elves, hobs and faeries.’
play (or raise) hob
- ‘The pavement raises hob with them and seems to impart a grade of dirt which defies removal.’
- ‘Even more fun - fructose plays hob with the enzymes that ‘tell’ cells whether to burn fat or store it.’
- ‘But there's a non-obvious one, which is to say that it plays hob with my writing schedule, or at least it tries to.’
- ‘The internal politics of getting things done has played hob with their scheduling.’
- ‘Digital cell phones have raised hob with hearing aids through electromagnetic interference.’
- ‘The cost of diverting waste can play hob with a private company's bottom line or a community's operating budget.’
- ‘The three-year recession and the constant lowering of interest rates to fight it are raising hob with pension funds.’
- ‘A combination of intense travel and poor health have played hob with my schedule.’
- ‘They aren't going to be setting up camp for a weekend and raising hob with 15 of their good buddies.’
- ‘The wind raised hob, blew the door shut after him leaving our worthy president locked in the cellar.’
Late Middle English (in the sense ‘country fellow’): pet form of Rob, short for Robin or Robert, often referring specifically to Robin Goodfellow.
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