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Background Information

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A hobby is a spare-time recreational pursuit.

Origin of term

A hobby-horse was a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like the real hobby. From this came the expression "to ride one's hobby-horse", meaning "to follow a favourite 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 cooking as a hobby, while a professional game tester might enjoy playing (and helping to debug) computer games. 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.

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

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 considered boring, such as train spotting or stamp collecting.

Development of hobbies into other ventures

Whilst some hobbies strike many people as trivial or boring, hobbyists have found something compelling and entertaining about them (see geek). 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 clearly has no such practical or social purpose.

Types 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: for example, 19th Century postage stamps, milk bottle labels from Sussex, or Mongolian harnesses and tack. Others prefer to keep a more general collection, accumulating Star Trek merchandise, or stamps from all countries of the world. Some collections are capable of being completed, at least to the extent of owning one sample of each possible item in the collection (e.g. a copy of every book by Agatha Christie). Collectors who specifically try to assemble complete collections in this way are sometimes called " completists." Upon completing a particular collection, 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. There are some limitations on collecting, however. 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, 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 (to some extent) 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. For this reason, they are beneficial after a large meal or a long and tedious task, but counterproductive if played immediately before sleeping. Many games help develop practical skills and serve as exercise or perform an educational, simulational or psychological role & also roaming.

Outdoor recreation

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, trekking, 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 (for example Trail ), and online (such as Eclipse Outdoor ).

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

An amateur magician perfoming.

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

Creative Hobbies

Some hobbies result in an end product of sorts. Examples of this would be woodworking, jewelry making, playing an instrument, software projects, artistic projects, creating models out of card or paper called papercraft up to higher end projects like building or restoring a car, or building a computer from scratch. While some of these may just be for the enjoyment of the hobbyist, there have been instances where it has come into demand at the request of friends or passerbys observing said project. At this point it has the potential to become a small business.


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 practiced 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.


Gardening is the art of growing plants with the goal of crafting a purposeful landscape. 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 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).

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