Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for October 18, 2019 is:

hobbyhorse • HAH-bee-horss  • noun

1 a : a figure of a horse fastened about the waist in the morris dance

b : a dancer wearing this figure

2 a : a stick having an imitation horse’s head at one end that a child pretends to ride

b : rocking horse

c : a toy horse suspended by springs from a frame

3 a : a topic to which one constantly reverts

b : a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation : hobby


“Apologies for hopping back on my hobbyhorse, but the lifeblood of every program is recruiting. The first thing Tech’s next coach must do is rustle up pro-style quarterbacks and tight ends because, for 11 years, Tech hasn’t had one.” — Mark Bradley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 28 Nov. 2018

“When a man gives himself up to the government of a ruling passion,—or, in other words, when his Hobby-Horse grows headstrong,—farewell cool reason and fair discretion.” — Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, 1759

Did you know?

The hobbyhorse is a toy of yesteryear, dating back to a homespun era predating automobiles. In the 1400s, the word hobby could refer to a real-life horse of small or average size. It soon came to refer to the horse costume worn by a person participating in a morris dance or a burlesque performance, and then, later, to the child’s toy. Another meaning of hobbyhorse was “a favorite pursuit or pastime”; our modern noun hobby (referring to an activity that one does for pleasure when not working) was formed by shortening this word. From pastime, the meaning of hobbyhorse was extended to “a subject to which one repeatedly returns.” The sense is typically encountered as part of such phrases as “get on one’s hobbyhorse” or “ride one’s hobbyhorse.”

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