Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms etymological, historical, geographical and discursive by Colonel Henry Yule and AC Burnell is a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India in the late 19th century. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year.
Where does the expression ‘hobson-jobson’ in the title of the book come from? We read, “My friend Major John Trotter tells me that he has repeatedly heard this phrase used by British soldiers in the Punjab. It is in fact an Anglo-Saxon version of the wailings of the Mahommedans as they beat their breasts in the procession of the Moharram – ‘Ya Hasan! Ya Hosain!’”
Tom Stoppard, inspired by the book lets his two characters compete to use as many Hobson-Jobson words as possible in his play Indian Ink, :
Flora: “While having tiffin on the veranda of my bungalow I spilled kedgeree on my dungarees and had to go to the gymkhana in my pyjamas looking like a coolie.”
Nirad: “I was buying chutney in the bazaar when a thug who had escaped from the chokey ran amok and killed a box-wallah for his loot, creating a hullabaloo and landing himself in the mulligatawny.”
Sources: Hobson-Jobson, Oxford English Dictionary