Hobson's choice  

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A Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered. As a person may refuse to take that option, the choice is therefore between taking the option or not; "take it or leave it". The phrase is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England. To rotate the use of his horses he offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or taking none at all.

Cambridge Guildhall has a donated portrait of Thomas Hobson. A plaque underneath the painting describes in a little detail how his livery came to be and the origin of the phrase. To add to the above, he had an extensive stable of some 40 horses and therefore there appeared to be a wide choice when in fact there was simply the choice described above.

Hobson's choice is different from:

  • a choice between or among limited options
  • Blackmail and extortion—the choice between paying money (or some non-monetary good or deed) and suffering an unpleasant action
  • False dilemma—only two choices are considered, when in fact there are others
  • Catch-22, Morton's Fork, and a double bind—choices yield equivalent, often undesirable, results.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hobson's choice" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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