THE PHRASE “HOBSON’S CHOICE”

THE PHRASE “HOBSON’S CHOICE”

For many years people would use the phrase "A Hobson's choice" in referring to a situation where they only had one option. The orgin of the phrase is based on actual historical fact.

Around the turn of the 17th century Thomas Hobson ran a carrier and horse rental business in Cambridge, England. He rented horses much as cars are rented today. While he had a large number of horses to rent he Hobsonwould require customers to chose the horse in the stall nearest the door. This way he was able to rotate the horses instead of letting the customers to choose the best horse.When a person came to rent horse he was led into the stable and shown all the horses, but then obliged the customer to take the horse next to the stable door. Many of his customers were Cambridge University Students who began to refer to this as "Hobson's choice" since it was no choice at all. You either took the horse in question or you got no horse. The phrase was in common use to describe a situation where one had no real choice. After his death, a book referred to Hobson's choice. When Henry Ford offered his Model T Ford, it was said that you could have it in any color you liked, so long as it's black – a Hobson's choice.

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