Easy; a job that’s simple; an activity that requires little effort to finish.
When a task is easier to complete than previously expected, people might use this phrase to express those thoughts.
Example: Cleaning up my messy room was a piece of cake. (In other words, cleaning the room was simple.)
The Origin of ‘A Piece of Cake’
The origin of the phrase ‘a piece of cake’ is unclear. However, here is how it may developed into the idiom it is today:
There are a few expressions that are similar to this one. For example, one of them is ‘as easy as pie.’ The meaning of both of them are identical—they convey the idea of simplicity. But why is that? What is so simple about cake and pie?
I doubt it has to do with the cooking aspect. After all, baking a cake or pie requires a fair bit of work. First, you have to buy all of the ingredients. Then, you know, you have to make it. Pour flour into a bowl, crack open some eggs, add everything together and mix it. Then you put it in the oven and wait. Yes, it’s not exactly hard, but I wouldn’t say it is easy either. Thus, I don’t think the origin of this idiom comes from making a cake.
However, what about eating it? Once the cake finishes baking and you cut a piece for yourself, well, eating a piece of cake is simple, delicious, and even delightful to do, wouldn’t you agree? So, could it be that the origin of this idiom comes from how easy it is to eat a piece of cake? That would be my guess.
Anyways, this phrase (with its figurative meaning) goes back to at least the 1930s. The term was used at that time by an American poet named Ogden Nash. He wrote a book called Primrose Path in 1936. There’s a part from the book that reads:
“Her picture’s in the papers now, And life’s a piece of cake.”
Here are examples of this idiom used in sentences. Please note that the first sentence will use the idiom, while the second will use a synonymous phrase:
- This upcoming bicycle race will be a piece of cake for me because I’ve been going through exhaustive training sessions to prepare myself for it.
- There’s a bike race coming up and I think it will be cakewalk for me because of how hard I’ve trained.
Here are more examples:
- My cat is sick and needs medication. I thought when it came time to medicate him, he’d put up a fight, but the whole process was actually a piece of cake.
- My cat is ill, so I have to give him medication. I thought it would be difficult to medicate him, but it was actually a walk in the park.
See Also: You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Wait a second, why can’t you do both? Find out more about this phrase and see examples of it.