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 have originated:
There are a number of expressions that are similar to this phrase. One of them is ‘as easy as pie.’ The meanings 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. For example, baking a cake or pie requires a fair bit of work. First, you have to buy all of the ingredients. Then you have to pour a bunch of flour into a bowl, crack open the eggs, and after adding everything together, you gotta mix it all up and put it in the oven. While it’s not exactly hard, I wouldn’t say it is easy either. So would the origin come from making a cake?Probably not.
However, what about after the cake finishes baking and the time comes to eat it? Well, that’s a whole lot easier to do, don’t you think? Yes, eating dessert like a piece of cake is simple, delicious, and even delightful to do. So then, could it be that the origin of this idiom comes from how easy it is to eat a piece of cake? This would be my guess.
Anyways, this phrase goes back to at least the 1930s. The term was used with its figurative meaning by an American poet named Ogden Nash, who 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 a sentence. You will be presented with two sentences below. The first one will use the idiom. The second will show you how to say the same thing, but without the 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. I think it will be very easy for me because I’ve been training hard, preparing myself for it.
Here is another pair of examples. One uses the phrase, the other does not:
- My cat needs medication because he is sick. I thought he would fight me tooth and nail when it came time to medicate him, but the whole process was actually a piece of cake.
- My cat is ill and the vet told me I need to give him medication. I thought it would be difficult to medicate him, but it was actually super simple.