Is there a word for something that's between a "job" and a "hobby"? It's a phenomenon you'll sometimes see among people who don't need to work, but for whatever reason choose to be employed. Their job's characteristics include several of these characteristics:

  1. Very flexible work hours
  2. Low stress
  3. Little or no metrics for determining success
  4. Little or no involvement of a supervisor/boss
  5. Undemanding
  6. Modest pay

The people I see who have these types of "jobs" generally have wealth from some other source (nearing retirement, rich parents, rich spouse, etc). Their financial picture probably wouldn't change significantly if they suddenly quit. So they've got reasons for working that are non-financial. Whatever you'd call their gig, it'd be inaccurate to call it a "hobby", because it's not enjoyable enough, and it generates a non-trivial (albeit modest) amount of income. Yet because of its very undemanding and flexible nature, I think it's unfair to call it a full-fledged job. And there's nothing wrong with these types of "jobs", but it's really frustrating when people start comparing them with real jobs that people have to work because they need an income. It'd be like an 18th century "gentleman farmer" comparing himself to a "normal" farmer.

Yesterday, I heard a mother who works part time in her dad's prosperous business compare her job to a single parent working 50+ hours in a diner and as a maid. She said,

"We both have jobs, so we both know the challenges of balancing work and kids".

I thought,

"No, the waitress has a job; You have a ______".

But what's the word to use? I feel the vocabulary is limited here, because she's technically right -- both of them have "jobs".

  • 10
    Avocation (as opposed to vocation = job).
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 27, 2016 at 19:17
  • 2
    You have a “nice little gig
    – Jim
    Jul 27, 2016 at 19:28
  • 2
    @DanBron it also can be defined as a "minor" occupation. Pls move it into an answer so I can do something more meaningful than agree.
    – Stan
    Jul 27, 2016 at 20:31
  • 1
    Someone "who works part time in her dad's prosperous business" has a job, whether you like it or not. Nov 29, 2016 at 21:56
  • 1
    @Tom22 I make a bad habit of doing the opposite of what other people ask me to do. Let’s see if I can make headway against that habit here.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 22, 2018 at 0:48

9 Answers 9


The closest I can get is a sinecure.

A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit:
political sinecures for the supporters of ministers


  • Sinecure implies that one's pay and status is substantial and out of proportion to what one actually does, and also that one got the position in some way that bypasses the normal job market. This doesn't seem to be what the OP has in mind: in the scenario described by the OP, the pay is modest, and there is nothing to indicate that it is not fairly earned or that the position was not fairly obtained.
    – jsw29
    Dec 7, 2023 at 19:32


Oxford dictionaries

An activity done in addition to one’s main job, especially to earn extra income:


Simple Definition : a job that is done in addition to your main job

Full Definition : 2. b : a business or activity pursued in addition to one's regular occupation

  • 2
    There is no main job to accompany in this case. It is the job being referred to by the question.
    – Stan
    Jul 27, 2016 at 20:26
  • @Stan ~ You can have a sideline to other sources of income; doesn't have to be a job
    – user180089
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:14
  • In my defence, I was strongly influenced by the word "main" in "main job" and the word "job" in "main job." Silly, I know. I'm so literal in that respect. ; )
    – Stan
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:21
  • @Stan ~ sarcasm aside, yes the definition specifies "main job" but the term is used in business contexts where the main source of income requires little effort on the "worker's" part and thus the worker is allowed to pursue other interests, i.e. sidelines
    – user180089
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:23
  • Oh, I gave you that point already when I responded in such an irreverent way. I apologize (sincerely). I was having fun at your expense. I added a smiley but it wasn't enough clearly.
    – Stan
    Jul 28, 2016 at 20:31

Tongue in cheek, but the word you're seeking may be the following neologism:

jobby: an endeavor between a job and a hobby

This is how new words come into being, right? It also lines up with your multiple use of "jobs".

Otherwise, I'm not sure there's a satisfactory one-word answer to your question. While not all jobs are created equal by any means, a job is a job: a regular remunerative position [M-W].

Addendum: As pyobum has pointed out, Wictionary provides several meanings of jobbie (or jobby), one of which is actually relevant:

jobbie (or jobby): (Britain, informal) a job, normally a task rather than a form of employment for which one is paid

So, a jobby is not a job as defined by M-W (see above), but at the same time it bears no obvious relationship to hobby.

  • Slight problem with this one (had no idea until I googled it): en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jobbie
    – pyobum
    Nov 29, 2016 at 7:09
  • @pyobum LOL. I didn't think of googling it. Good find. The examples are hilarious. Nov 29, 2016 at 13:00
  • @RichardKayser I have no comment to make on 'jobby' in BrE. My delicate sensibilities might go into overload, don't ya know. Salutations. Nov 29, 2016 at 22:03
  • @RichardKayser Oh, wait a minute. If you're a budding thespian, you'll start out as a 'spear carrier'. If you're no good a treading the boards, you'll probably remain one for the rest of you're stage career. Nov 29, 2016 at 22:13
  • @PeterPoint Salutations! Sounds like you know something about the performing arts. Re the answer: That's quite an unusual jobbie you have there! Nov 29, 2016 at 23:03

I recommend gig or moonlighting (only works when you have a primary job, too).

It is worth noting that there are other ways English tends to resolve this distinction: we will tack on an adjective and say "well his position as secretary is largely perfunctory in any case," or "it's very much a cush, part-time position." Alternatively, sometimes people will attempt to distinguish between a career and a job, although I think this is mostly connotated and not denotated.

  • To me "moonlighting" has rather negative connotations. Please provide relevant links to explain the meanings and substantiate your suggestions.
    – TrevorD
    Jul 28, 2016 at 22:47
  • People typically engage in moonlighting because they are under great financial pressure; that is exactly the opposite of what the OP describes.
    – jsw29
    Dec 6, 2023 at 23:25

You may also consider this as a 'vanity job', 'vanity position', or (in the case of being self-employed) 'vanity business'.

This definition (adjective 1) is particular to authors and musicians, but I see it in broader use as well.

of, relating to, or being a work (as a book or recording) whose production cost is paid by the author or artist

It's somewhat derogatory:

Her husband is rich and she's bored sitting around the house, so he pays the rent on her vanity business that sells hand-knitted tea cozies made from hamster fur and unicorn dust.


Whereas your vocation is your job, your line of business, and how you earn your income, by contrast your avocation is a secondary or a subordinate occupation you take up in addition, especially for enjoyment.

For example in Collins:


variable noun
Your avocation is a job or activity that you do because you are interested in it, rather than to earn your living.

[formal] He was a printer by trade and naturalist by avocation.

Similarly from Dictionary.com


1. something a person does in addition to a principal occupation, especially for pleasure; hobby:

Our doctor's avocation is painting.

This meaning evolved from an older sense, now archaic, where the word meant “a distraction”, but more particularly a calling away from your vocation (a + vocation):

From Etymonline:

avocation (n.)
1610s, "a calling away from one's occupation;" 1640s, "that which calls one away from one's proper business," from Latin avocationem (nominative avocatio) "a calling away, distraction, diversion," noun of action from past participle stem of avocare "to call off, call away," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + vocare "to call" (from PIE root *wekw- "to speak").

Which I think fits nicely to your need for a word which is “not quite work, not quite a hobby”. The call is so compelling it distracts you from your day job.

  • 1
    As the quoted definitions indicate, avocation includes (at least some) outright hobbies in addition to the paid activities that the question is about. (Depending on how the definitions are interpreted, it may, arguably, also include the activities that produce substantial income, as long as that is not the principal motivation for engaging in the activity.) Moreover, according to the quoted definitions, the activity in question is something one does in addition to one's principal, 'day' job, and the people described by the OP often don't have them.
    – jsw29
    Dec 6, 2023 at 23:23

Consider diversion.

Definition from MW dictionary:

diversion: something that people do because it is enjoyable, entertaining, or pleasant

  • I think that a "pastime" also belongs to this definition.
    – Stan
    Jul 27, 2016 at 20:27
  • The concept of diversion is much broader that what the question is about, as it includes outright hobbies.
    – jsw29
    Dec 6, 2023 at 23:27

A "labor of love" is work done for its own pleasure rather than chiefly for financial reward, which seems squarely on point.



"Labor of love" is most apt for work that has intrinsic non-monetary value (or is expected to)--acting at a Renaissance Fair, cleaning a park, doing genealogy, tutoring children, or writing a book, say. It's not a perfect fit for something that merely gets one out of the house for some extrinsic reason--working at a zoo to try to meet attractive women, say, or getting a job as a Walmart greeter to combat loneliness and depression.


It would have been suffice for you to simply ask your question, "Is there a word for something that's between a job and a hobby?" And perhaps you should have just left it at that, instead of indicating your obvious judgemental tone towards what you consider to not be a "real job". Btw, this can be referred to as an ENDEAVOR, which basically can cover any and all hobbies, jobs & careers, studies, pursuits, activities & involvement, interests & passions, and so forth and so on (whether non-profit or for-profit). And fyi, some who have an endeavor as you are describing actually do WORK really hard for their success, and many depend on such an endeavor(s) as their SOLE source of income. Thank you very much!

  • Someone who depends on that job as their main source of income does not fit the question.
    – neil
    Jan 20, 2021 at 19:44

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