Where does the word “hobbyhorse” originate and What does hobbyhorse mean?

The term itself is merely repetition, as, six centuries ago, a hobby was a horse, a small horse, probably a nickname for Robin.

But hobbyhorse comes to us from the sixteenth-century morris dance, commonly held throughout England at Whitsuntide, mid-May.

Although the characters in these festivals chiefly represented Robin Hood and others of his company, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian invariably, there was also always a horseman ostensibly astride a small horse, dancing fantastically among the group.

In reality the horse was a gaily caparisoned framework of wicker or the like, surmounted by an imitation of a horse’s head, all carried by the rider.

The morris dance has long since departed; the hobbyhorse, considerably modified for the sport of young children, is the sole survivor.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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