The word hobnob was first used in the 1760s as a verb meaning "to alternate toasting each other" while drinking. About a hundred years later, this morphed into the definition of "to socialize" that we know and use today. The word is a combination of the phrase hob and nob (sometimes hob or nob), which can sort of be translated as "give and take", describing how people alternate between buying rounds of drinks. That traces to the dialectal term hab nab, "to have and have not". Hab is a rare word deriving from Old English habban, meaning "possess" (the etymon of have); that, through Proto-Germanic habjana, is reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European kehp, "to seize". Nab is from nabban, which is basically habban but just negated with the prefix ne-, meaning "not".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.