Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Hob Nob.

 Hobnail.Hob’s Pound. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Hob Nob.
 
A corruption of hab nab, meaning “have or not have,” hence hit or miss, at random; and, secondarily, give or take, whence also an open defiance. A similar construction to willy nilly. (Anglo-Saxon, habban, to have; nabban, not to have.)   1
        “The citizens in their rage shot habbe or nabbe [hit or miss] at random.”—Holinshed: History of Ireland.
        “He writes of the weather hab nab [at random], and as the toy [fancy] takes him, chequers the year with foul and fair.”—Quack Astrologer (1673).
        “He is a devil in private brawls … . hob nob is his word, give ’t or take ’t.”—Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, iii. 4.
        “Not of Jack Straw, with his rebellious crew.
        That set king, realm, and laws at hab or nab [defiance].” Sir J. Harington: Epigram, iv.
 


 Hobnail.Hob’s Pound. 

 
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