If something is “as easy as pie,” that means it is simple to do. It’s a job or task that is easy, requiring little effort; a piece of cake.
Example: My friend has never owned a pet before. He wanted to get a cat, but he worried that caring for it would be too much work. I assured him that cats are as easy as pie to care for.
Note: This phrase is commonly used as a simile, so the word “as” often precedes it.
Synonyms: a piece of cake, a walk in the park, easy-peasy lemon squeezy
The Origin of ‘Easy as Pie’
This phrase may come from the pleasantness and ease involved when eating a delicious pie. A similar expression to this one is ‘a piece of cake,’ both expressions not only share the same meaning, but they may also have similar origin stories.
During the 19th century, the word ‘pie’ was used to describe someone who acted kindly to another person. Let’s look at an example of that. In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1885, take a look at how the word ‘pie’ was used:
“You’re always as polite as pie to them.”
Two years later, the phrase can be seen in various newspapers, so it must have been a somewhat common phrase at that time. This example comes from The Newport Mercury newspaper, 1887, where it reads:
“You see veuever I goes I takes away mit me a silverspoon or a knife or somethings, an’ I gets two or three dollars for them. It’s easy as pie. Vy don’t you try it?”
Thus this idiom goes back to at least the late 19th century.
- When I think about what to make myself for breakfast in the morning, oftentimes I just go with a bowl of cereal since it’s easy as pie to make.
- Janice has always been afraid of water because she doesn’t know how to swim. However, after taking swimming lessons, she’s no longer afraid. She now finds swimming to be as easy as pie.
Note: The origins for many common idioms and phrases are unclear. Thus, when that happens, I’ll usually just list some of the popular or plausible theories that exist for how a phrase may have originated. Or, if not that, then I’ll try to find the earliest known written quote of the saying.
Quotes will often be taken from old books, newspapers, poems, plays. These are to give an idea on how far back in history the particular expression goes. However, do not assume that if I, for example, quote a newspaper from 1852, that the idiom originates from that time. Indeed, since the expression is already being used by the newspaper, then it’s probably already a well established expression, and is thus older.