The word 'Hobby', meaning a pastime or enthusiasm, derives from the
obsolete sense of a small road-horse - related to the morris-dancer's
and the child's hobby-horse. In "Black Beauty" the kindly Squire, after
reproving a neighbour for his treatment of carriage-horses, says "Now
I've given my hobby a good trot-out; won't you try him?", meaning "give
my system a go".
Apparently the bird has been called 'hobby' since the 1500s.
The French word for the bird, hobelar or hobereau, has at times been
connected to a similar obsolete word 'hober' meaning to hover, but I
believe this is now discounted. No, I have just checked W.B.
Lockwoods's 'Dictionary of British Bird Names' (1993), who says 'hober'
means to jump about, referring to the bird's well-known agility.
A book on falconry (can't recall title or author) said that Hobbies
offer fine sport if flown at Skylarks....if you like that sort of
thing.. Certainly the Australian Hobby is a very fine dashing raptor
and always worth watching. Pity we never see them around Heidelberg any
more these days.
Andrew Taylor wrote:
On Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 04:05:16PM +1000, Philip Veerman wrote:
A hobby as in that it is small, maybe considered elegant and attractive
but it does not catch large and useful prey, as distinct from goshawks,
peregrines, eagles, etc. Hence for fun or frivolity, a hobby, rather
than serious sport or culinary hunting.
Sounds good, but most etymologies seem to have hobby (falcon)
coming from French not hobby (pastime).
I hope Trevor doesn't abolish merlin & kestrel as well.
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