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Hobson's choice

[hob-suh nz] /ˈhɒb sənz/
noun
1.
the choice of taking either that which is offered or nothing; the absence of a real alternative.
Origin
1640-1650
1640-50; after Thomas Hobson (1544-1631), of Cambridge, England, who rented horses and gave his customer only one choice, that of the horse nearest the stable door
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for hob sons choices

Hobson's choice

/ˈhɒbsənz/
noun
1.
the choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all
Word Origin
C16: named after Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), English liveryman who gave his customers no choice but had them take the nearest horse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hob sons choices

Hobson's choice

n.

English university slang term, supposedly a reference to Thomas Hobson (c.1544-1631), Cambridge stable manager who let horses and gave customers a choice of the horse next in line or none at all. Phrase popularized c.1660 by Milton, who was at Cambridge from 1625-29.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with hob sons choices
An apparently free choice that actually offers no alternative. For example, My dad said if I wanted the car I could have it tonight or not at all—that's Hobson's choice. This expression alludes to Thomas Hobson of Cambridge, England, who rented horses and allowed each customer to take only the horse nearest the stable door. [ Mid-1600s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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