A hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, often in one's spare 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.
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.
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.
An important determinant of what is considered a hobby, as distinct from a profession (beyond the lack of remuneration), is probably how easy it is to make a living at the activity. Almost no one can make a living at cigarette card or stamp collecting, but many people find it enjoyable; so it is commonly regarded as a hobby.
In the UK, 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.
Whilst some hobbies strike many people as trivial or boring, hobbyists have found something compelling and entertaining about them. 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. 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. In peacetime it usually has no such practical or social purpose.
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. The most popular fields in collecting have specialized commercial dealers that trade in the items being collected, as well as related accessories. Many of these dealers started as collectors themselves, then turned their hobby into a profession. Someone who has the financial means to collect stamps might not be able to collect sports-cars, for example. One alternative to collecting physical objects is collecting experiences of a particular kind. Examples include collecting through observation or photography (especially popular for transportation, e.g. train spotting, aircraft spotting, metrophiles, bus spotting; see also I-Spy), bird-watching, and systematically visiting continents, countries (and collecting stamps in their passports), states, national parks, counties etc.
A game 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), 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.
Outdoor pursuits can be loosely considered to be the group of sports and activities which are dependent on the great outdoors, incorporating such things as hill walking, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, caving, and arguably broader groups such as watersports and snowsport. Outdoor sports most often include nature in the "sport".
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 teambuilding. 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.
Some hobbies result in an end product of sorts. Examples of this would be woodworking, photography, moviemaking, jewelry making, playing a musical instrument, software projects, 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. While these may just be for the enjoyment of the hobbyist, they sometimes have potential to be a small business.
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 UK in the late 1800s, later spread and flourished in the mid-1900s. 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. Superheros, 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 scales for each subject are (in order of popularity):
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 hobbie is Warhammer 40,000, from Games Workshop
In addition to plastic kits, resin has become a popular material for "short 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 to please almost every niche and taste of interest, from every imaginable era. There are also several modeling clubs in most cities, with the largest and best known International Plastic Modeler's Society (IPMS) supporting chapters and contests around the world.
Cooking is an act of preparing food for eating. It encompasses a vast range of methods, tools and combinations of ingredients to improve the flavour or digestibility of food. It generally requires the selection, measurement and combining of ingredients in an ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Constraints on success include the variability of ingredients, ambient conditions, tools and the skill of the individual cooking. The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of the myriad nutritional, aesthetic, agricultural, economic, cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it. Cooking requires applying heat to a food which usually, though not always, chemically transforms it, thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional properties. Cooking proper, as opposed to roasting, requires the boiling of water 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.
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.
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 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 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).
Freshwater fishkeeping is by far the most popular branch of the hobby, with even small pet stores often selling a variety of freshwater fish, such as goldfish, guppies, and angelfish. While most freshwater aquaria are set up as community tanks containing a variety of peaceful species, many aquarists 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, characin, and killifish.
Marine aquaria are generally more difficult to maintain and the livestock is significantly more expensive, and as a result this branch of the hobby tends to attract more experienced fishkeepers. However, marine aquaria can be exceedingly beautiful, due to the attractive colors and shapes of the corals and coral reef fish kept in them. Temperate zone marine fish are not as commonly kept in home aquaria, primarily because they do not do well at room temperature. An aquarium containing these coldwater species usually needs to be either located in a cool room (such as an unheated basement) or else chilled using a refrigeration device known as a 'chiller'.
Brackish water aquaria combine elements of both marine and freshwater fishkeeping, reflecting the fact that these aquaria contain water with a salinity in between that of freshwater and seawater. Fish kept in brackish water aquaria come from habitats with varying salinity, such as mangroves and estuaries and do not do well if permanently kept in freshwater aquaria. Although brackish water aquaria are not overly familiar to newcomers to the hobby, a surprising number of species prefer brackish water conditions, including some mollies, many gobies, some pufferfish, monos, scats, and virtually all the freshwater soles.
Fishkeepers are often known as "aquarists", since many of them are not solely interested in keeping fish. 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 the Japanese aquarist Takashi Amano. Marine aquarists often attempt to recreate a coral reef in their aquaria using large quantities of living rock, porous calcareous rocks encrusted with coralline algae, sponges, worms, and other small marine organisms. Larger corals as well as shrimps, crabs, echinoderms, 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, is a common hobby and one that can 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  One of the great benefits of reading as a hobby is that it can be taken up and put down whenever a free moment presents itself. When reading paperback books, it is easy to take the reading material on holiday or on public transport with very little inconvenience. One great advantage is that it allows the human mind to create its own view of the world portrayed in the book, something that can be disappointing when a book is made into a play for television or into a film.
Stebbins, Robert A. (2007) Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
HOBBY, a small horse, probably from early quotations, of Irish breed, trained to an easy gait so that riding was not fatiguing. The common use of the word is for a favourite pursuit or occupation, with the idea either of excessive devotion or of absence of ulterior motive or of profit, &c., outside the occupation itself. This use is probably not derived from the easy ambling gait of the Irish "hobby," but from the "hobby-horse," the mock horse of the old morris-dances, made of a painted wooden horse's head and tail, with a framework casing for an actor's body, his legs being covered by a cloth made to represent the "housings" of the medieval tilting-horse. A hobby or hobbyhorse is thus a toy, a diversion. The O. Fr. hobin, or hobi, Mod. aubin, and Ital. ubina are probably adaptations of the English, according to the New English Dictionary. The O. Fr. hober, to move, which is often taken to be the origin of all these words, is the source of a use of "hobby" for a small kind of falcon, falco subbuteo, used in hawking.
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Some people do arts and crafts. They make clothing or decorations with their hands. Some popular arts and crafts that involve textiles or fabrics include crocheting, sewing (making clothing), embroidery (e.g.,cross stitch, needlepoint, crewel and satin stitch, etc.), knitting, and quilting.
Some people like to do hobbies that involve making images on paper, such as scrapbooking, painting, and drawing. Some people like to make three-dimensional decorations using clay or wood, in the hobbies of pottery, sculpture, wood carving, and woodworking.
Some people enjoy hobbies such as playing games or solving puzzles. Games include board games such as chess, card games, and newer games such as wargaming and role-playing games. Popular puzzles include jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles.
Some people enjoy spending their time reading books, magazines, and newspapers, or writing stories or in a diary. Other people enjoy learning foreign languages by taking classes, or doing research, such as genealogy (learning about your family history).
In the 2000s, many people have Internet-based hobbies, such as editing Wikipedia, writing their own blogs, or having online discussions in Newsgroups or online forums. Some people enjoy computer activities, such as computer programming, learning about open source software, or playing computer games. Some people enjoy learning about electronics such as doing amateur radio broadcasts or building robots.
Some people enjoy working on their home and learning how to repair their home by themselves, without hiring repair people or plumbers. Some people enjoy learning how to repair motor vehicles, such as antique cars, motorcycles, or pickup trucks. Some people even build and repair sailboats in their backyard.
Many people have hobbies that they do in the kitchen, such as cooking, making meals for their guests and family, and making their own beer. Many people also have hobbies in their home that involve animals, such as keeping a pet animal, such as a dog, a cat, or a turtle. Some people even learn about dog breeding.
Collecting is a popular hobby in North America and in Europe. People enjoy finding interesting examples of different items and learning about them. Some of the well-known types of collecting include stamp collecting, coin collecting, trading cards such as baseball cards, and autographs of celebrities (famous people). People also collect toys, books, comic books, and old records. Some people collect antiques and artwork, but these hobbies are more rare, because antiques and artwork are usually expensive.
A type of hobby that is related to collecting is model-building. People who do model-building as a hobby collect small models which they build, paint, and then display. Some common types of model-building hobbies include model airplanes, model rockets, model ships, model cars, and model railways.
Many people spend a lot of time in leisure activities that are not necessarily called hobbies. Some people disapprove of spending time on these activities. These activities include watching too much television, drinking alcohol, and taking illegal drugs.
For more hobbies, see: List of hobbies.