Hobson-Jobson [hob-suh n-job-suh n] ExamplesWord Origin noun

  1. the alteration of a word or phrase borrowed from a foreign language to accord more closely with the phonological and lexical patterns of the borrowing language, as in English hoosegow from Spanish juzgado.

Origin of Hobson-Jobson 1625–35; Indian English rendering of Arabic yā Ḥasan, yā Husayn lament uttered during taʿziyah; an example of such an alteration Examples from the Web for hobson-jobson Historical Examples of hobson-jobson

  • I’m going to dress and put an end to this Hobson-Jobson flummery!

    Gold Out of Celebes

    Aylward Edward Dingle

  • It comes, by the law of Hobson-Jobson, from the French carriole.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

  • Jerked beef came from the Spanish charqui by the law of Hobson-Jobson.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

  • Hobson-jobson, hob′son-job′son, n. a native festal excitement, esp.

    Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary (part 2 of 4: E-M)


  • The law of Hobson-Jobson made changes in other Indian names, sometimes complete and sometimes only partial.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

  • British Dictionary definitions for hobson-jobson hobson-jobson noun

    1. another word for folk etymology

    Word Origin for hobson-jobson C19: Anglo-Indian folk-etymological variant of Arabic yā Hasan! yā Husayn! O Hasan! O Husain! (ritual lament for the grandsons of Mohammed); influenced by the surnames Hobson and Jobson Word Origin and History for hobson-jobson Hobson-Jobson

    1690s, hossen gossen, said to have been British soldiers’ mangled Englishing of the Arabic cry they heard at Muharram processions in India, Ya Hasan! Ya Husayn! (“O Hassan! O Husain!”), mourning two grandsons of the Prophet who died fighting for the faith. Title of Yule & Burnell’s 1886 glossary of Anglo-Indian words, and taken by linguists in naming the law of Hobson-Jobson, describing the effort to bring a new and strange word into harmony with the language.

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