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In the 18th-century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the characters' hobby-horses, or particular obsessions, are discussed in detail. Here, Uncle Toby's obsession with the military leads to him and Trim--who gets caught up in Toby's enthusiasm--to begin acting out military actions. Illustration by George Cruikshank.
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A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.


A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse (which was sometimes called a "Hobby"). From this came the expression "to ride one's hobby-horse", meaning "to follow a favorite pastime", and in turn, hobby in the modern sense of recreation.[1][2][3]

Hobbies are practiced for interest and enjoyment, rather than financial reward. Examples include collecting, creative and artistic pursuits, making, tinkering, sports and adult education. Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge and experience. However, personal fulfillment is the aim. People enjoy participating in competitive hobbies such as athletics, hockey, tennis etc.

What are hobbies for some people are professions for others: a chef may enjoy playing computer games as a hobby, while a professional game tester might enjoy cooking. Generally speaking, the person who does something for fun, not remuneration, is called an amateur (or hobbyist), as distinct from a professional.

Amateur astronomers often make meaningful contributions to the profession. It is not entirely uncommon for a hobbyist to be the first to discover a celestial body or event.

In the United Kingdom, the pejorative noun anorak (similar to the Japanese "otaku", meaning a geek or enthusiast) is often applied to people who obsessively pursue a particular hobby that is otherwise considered boring, such as train spotting or stamp collecting.

Development into other ventures[edit]

Much early scientific research was, in effect, a hobby of the wealthy; more recently, Linux began as a student's hobby. A hobby may not be as trivial as it appears at a time when it has relatively few followers. Thus a British conservationist recalls that when seen wearing field glasses at a London station in the 1930s he was asked if he was going to the (horse) races.[citation needed] The anecdote indicates that at the time an interest in nature was not widely perceived as a credible hobby. Practitioners of that hobby went on to become the germs of the conservation movement that flourished in Britain from 1965 onwards and became a global political movement within a generation. Conversely, the hobby of aircraft spotting probably originated as part of a serious activity designed to detect arriving waves of enemy aircraft entering English airspace during World War II.[citation needed].

Other hobbies include but are not limited to: basket-weaving, curling, golf, bowling and model building.


Collectable • Antique • Antiquities

Ephemera • Memorabilia
Premium • Prize
Souvenir • Special edition


List of collectables
List of hobbies


The hobby of collecting consists of acquiring specific items based on a particular interest of the collector. These collections of things are often highly organized, carefully cataloged, and attractively displayed. Since collecting depends on the interests of the individual collector, it may deal with almost any subject. The depth and breadth of the collection may also vary. Some collectors choose to focus on a specific subtopic within their area of general interest. There are also individuals, who take up collection of coins as their hobby; in both the cases the people try to hold on to the identities. Some collections are capable of being completed, at least to the extent of owning one sample of each possible item in the collection. Collectors who specifically try to assemble complete collections in this way are sometimes called "completists." Upon completing, they may stop collecting, expand the collection to include related items, or begin an entirely new collection. Many completelists are also referred to as date sets, and can be stored in a number of coin holders. The most popular[citation needed] of the coin holders for date sets are coin albums.[4]

Specialized commercial dealers that trade in the items being collected, as well as related accessories started as collectors themselves, then turned their hobby into a profession.

Finance may be a restriction on hobbies; for example, someone who has the financial means to collect stamps might not be able to collect sports-cars. One alternative to collecting physical objects is collecting experiences of a particular kind. Examples include collecting through observation or photography, train spotting, aircraft spotting, metrophiles, bus spotting, bird-watching, and systematically visiting continents, countries (and collecting stamps in their passports), states, national parks, counties etc. A related game is I-Spy.


Card game, 1895.

A game as a hobby is a structured or semi-structured recreational activity, usually undertaken for enjoyment (although sometimes for physical or vocational training). A goal that the players try to reach and a set of rules concerning what the players can or cannot do create the challenge and structure in a game, and are thus central to its definition. Known to have been played as far back as prehistoric times, games are generally distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration. Because a wide variety of activities are enjoyable, numerous types of games have developed. What creates an enjoyable game varies from one individual to the next. Age, understanding (of the game), ability, intelligence level, and personality are factors that determine what games a person enjoys. Depending on these factors, people vary the number and complexity of objectives, rules, challenges, and participants to increase their enjoyment. Games generally involve mental and/or physical stimulation. Many games help develop practical skills and serve as exercise or perform an educational, simulational or psychological role.

Many children like to play outdoor games that involve physical activity such as cops and robbers and hide and go seek. Adults may play games, such as in the form of card games, board games, and in recent times, video games. Some additional games that adults would play are darts and dice games.

Outdoor recreation[edit]

Outdoor pursuits are the group activities which are dependent on the outdoors, such as hill walking, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, climbing, caving, and arguably broader groups such as watersports and snowsport.

While obviously enjoyed by many as a bit of fun, an adrenaline rush, or an escape from reality, outdoor sport is also frequently used as an extremely effective medium in education and team building. It is this ethos that has given rise to links with young people, such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and PGL, and large numbers of outdoor education centres being established, as the stress on the importance of a balanced and widespread education continues to grow. Depending on the persons' desired level of adrenaline, outdoors can be considered a type of hobby.

As interest increases, so has the rise of commercial outdoor pursuits, with outdoor kit stores opening up in large numbers and thriving, as well as outdoor pursuits journalism and magazines, both on paper and online.

The increased accessibility of outdoor pursuits resources has been the source of some negative publicity over the years also, with complaints of destroying the landscape. A widely-seen example is the destruction of hillsides as footpaths are eroded by excessive numbers of visitors.

Performing arts[edit]

An amateur magician performing

Many hobbies involve performing by the hobbyist, such as singing, acting, juggling, magic, dancing and other performing arts.

Creative hobbies[edit]

Some hobbies result in an end product. Examples of this would be woodworking, photography, moviemaking, jewelry making, software projects such as Photoshopping and home music or video production, making bracelets friendship bracelets, artistic projects (such as drawing, painting, etc.), creating models out of card or paper called papercraft up to higher end projects like building or restoring a car, such as a Jowett or building a computer from scratch.

Scale modeling/dioramas[edit]

Replicas of real things in a smaller scale go all the way back to prehistoric times, as small clay "dolls" and other children's toys have been found near known population areas. Greeks, Romans, and Persians took the form to a greater depth during their years of world domination, using scale replicas of enemy fortifications, coastal defense lines, and other geographic fixtures to plan battles.

At the turn of the Industrial Age through the 1920s, families could more often afford things such as electric trains, wind up toys (typically boats or cars) and the increasingly valuable tin toy soldiers.

Model engineering refers to building functioning machinery in metal, such as internal combustion motors and live steam models or locomotives. This is a demanding hobby, requiring a multitude of large and expensive tools, e.g. lathes and mills. This hobby originated in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century, later spread and flourished in the mid-20th century. Due to the expense and space required, it is becoming more rare.

Scale modeling as we know it today became popular shortly after World War II. Prior to 1946, children as well as adults were content in carving and shaping wooden replicas from block wood kits, often depicting enemy aircraft to help in identification in case of invasion.

With the advent of modern plastics, the amount of skill required to get the basic shape accurately shown for any given subject was lessened, making it easier for people of all ages to begin assembling replicas in varying scales. Superheroes, aeroplanes, boats, cars, tanks, artillery, and even figures of soldiers became quite popular subjects to build, paint and display. Although almost any subject can be found in almost any scale, there are common scales for such miniatures which remain constant today. The most popular[citation needed] scales for each subject are (in order[citation needed] of popularity):

A "night shot" of a coffee-table sized Z scale model railroad layout
  • Cars (1:24, 1:25, 1:32)
  • Railroads (1:87/1:76, 1:160, 1:220, plus ridable "backyard railroads", 1:8 and smaller.)
  • Planes (1:48, 1:72, 1:32)
  • Armor (1:35, 1:72: 1:48)
  • Soldiers (1:32, 1:35, 1:48, 1:6)

Figures are probably the most variable of all subjects in terms of scale, and are often referred to as their metric equivalent... for example, a 1:32 scale figure soldier is more commonly described as "54mm". Likewise other popular sizes are 90mm, 120mm and almost every increment in between. An example of a Diorama hobby is Warhammer 40,000, from Games Workshop

In addition to plastic kits, resin has become a popular material for "short[clarification needed] run" productions. The level of detail is often quite exquisite, and while more expensive than the typical plastic soldier, is much easier to work with and modify than White Metal or Pewter figures.

Scale modeling is no longer a high growth industry as it was during the 60's and 70's, but there are still thousands of retail shops selling kits, supplies, paints, and tools to support both the new and established hobbyist. There are certainly more companies producing more varieties of kits on various subjects than ever before, and the levels of detail has become unbelievably accurate with the advent of modern drafting and molding equipment, and digitized CAD software to drive accuracy to the 1000th of an inch.

With the increased costs of good kits moving upward, and entertainment competition for youth moving more towards computers and video gaming in the home, the average age of the avid hobbyist is now much older than ever before - with adults making up the vast majority of enthusiasts. At the same time, there are probably more people building now than ever, and there is a large selection of supportive magazines such as Fine Scale Modeller, Military Miniatures in Review (MMiR) and Tamiya Magazine from every imaginable era. There are also several modeling clubs in most cities, with the largest being International Plastic Modellers' Society (IPMS). IPMS has supports chapters and contests around the world.


Cooking requires applying heat to a food which usually, though not always, chemically transforms it, thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional properties. It encompasses a vast range of methods and tools and may be used to improve the digestibility of food. It may require the selection, measurement and combining of ingredients in an ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Constraints on success include the ambient conditions, tools and the skill of the individual cook.

The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of the myriad nutritional, aesthetic, agricultural, agronomic, economic, cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it.

Cooking proper, as opposed to roasting, requires the boiling of water or oil in a receptacle, and was practised at least since the 10th millennium BC with the introduction of pottery. There is archaeological evidence of roasted foodstuffs, both animal and vegetable, in human (Homo erectus) campsites dating from the earliest known use of fire some 800,000 years ago.[citation needed]


Residential gardening most often takes place in or about a residence, in a space referred to as the garden. Although a garden typically is located on the land near a residence, it may also be located in a roof, in an atrium, on a balcony, in a windowbox, or on a patio or vivarium.

A gardener

Gardening also takes place in non-residential green areas, such as parks, public or semi-public gardens (botanical gardens or zoological gardens), amusement and theme parks, along transportation corridors, and around tourist attractions and hotels. In these situations, a staff of gardeners or groundskeepers maintains the gardens.

Indoor gardening[edit]

Indoor gardening is concerned with the growing of houseplants within a residence or building, in a conservatory, or in a greenhouse. Indoor gardens are sometimes incorporated as part of air conditioning or heating systems.

Water gardening[edit]

Water gardening is concerned with growing plants adapted to pools and ponds. Bog gardens are also considered a type of water garden. These all require special conditions and considerations. A simple water garden may consist solely of a tub containing the water and plant(s).

Container gardening[edit]

Container gardening is concerned with growing plants in containers that are placed above the ground..


This hobby can be broadly divided into three specific disciplines, freshwater, brackish, and marine (also called saltwater) fishkeeping.

Small pet stores often selling a variety of freshwater fish for Freshwater fishkeeping, such as goldfish, guppies, and angelfish. While most freshwater aquaria are set up as community tanks containing a variety of peaceful species, many aquarists (people who keep aquariums) keep single-species aquaria with a view to breeding. Livebearing fish such as mollies and guppies are among the species that are most easily raised in captivity, but aquarists also regularly breed numerous other species, including many types of cichlid, catfish, and characin.

Many fishkeepers create freshwater aquascapes where the focus is on aquatic plants rather than on the fish. These aquariums include the "Dutch Aquarium", in reference to the pioneering work carried out by European aquarists in designing these sorts of tanks. In recent years, one of the most active advocates of the heavily planted aquarium is Japanese aquarist Takashi Amano. Marine aquarists often attempt to recreate ocean habitats, by starting with plants and mollusks are added later on, once the aquarium has matured, as well as a variety of small fish. Such aquaria are sometimes called reef tanks.

Garden ponds are in some ways similar to freshwater aquaria, but are usually much larger and exposed to the ambient climatic conditions. In the tropics, tropical fish can be kept in garden ponds, but in the cooler regions temperate zone species such as goldfish, koi, and orfe are kept instead.


Reading, such as reading books, magazines, comics, or newspapers, along with browsing the internet is a common hobby and one that can trace its origins back many hundreds of years. A love of literature later in life may be sparked by an interest in reading children's literature as a child.[5]


People who enjoy playing sports may be amateur athletes who play recreationally.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chicago Manual Style (CMS): hobby.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas: Script error: No such module "Vorlage:Internetquelle". In: Script error: No such module "Vorlage:Internetquelle".Vorlage:Cite web/temporär
  3. ^ Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hobby (accessed: July 12, 2007).
  4. ^ http://coinsupplies.blogspot.com/
  5. ^ Children's reading Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944). On the Art of Reading. 1920. (retrieved21 April 2009)

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