Hobson's Choice Definition
"Hobson's choice" refers to the idea that a person either has no choice at all or a choice between two bad options. Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage 410-11 (3rd ed. 2011).
The Court of Appeals has recently defined the phrase as the "paradox of an apparently free choice when in reality there is no alternative." See Simpson v. State, 442 Md. 446, 112 A.3d 941 (2015)(citing The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language 460 (Bernard S. Cayne ed., Lexicon Publications, Inc. 1990)).
The phrase originated from the practice of Thomas Hobson (1549-1631), a livery stable owner in England, who offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall closest to the door or taking none at all. Garner's Dictionary of Legal Usage, supra, at 410; Wilson v. John Crane, Inc., 385 Md. 185, 211 n.11, 867 A.2d 1077 (2005).