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awomanscorned's avatar

Could you help me understand this saying please?

Asked by awomanscorned (11259 points ) March 30th, 2011 from iPhone

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too”

I understand the situations when people say it, and why, but what the hell? Yes I can have my cake and eat it too. Is there more to this? I was thinking about this today when I was eating a piece of cake.

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18 Answers

optimisticpessimist's avatar

It means you can not have it both ways. You cannot both keep your cake and eat your cake; you have to choose to keep it or eat it.

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optimisticpessimist's avatar

@noelleptc I am with you on that. Kept cake is useless.

everephebe's avatar

@optimisticpessimist has it.

Origin is John Heywood’s ‘A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue’

An interesting thought about cakes you don’t get to eat:
For weddings, the actual wedding cake often isn’t served to the guests. It is for the bride and groom, only basically. So the guests get sheet trays of a similar cake. Also, sometimes the lower tiers of the cake are just rolled fondant covered styrofoam. The bride and groom can freeze the cake and eat it on their one year anniversary, if they want. Also some people keep a cake because it’s pretty / a work of art, and they rather look at it then eat it.

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fujivelo's avatar

If they said that to me I would do this with the cake

janbb's avatar

It actually should be, “you can’t eat your cake and have it too” but people say it the other way.

laineybug's avatar

@janbb The real way makes way more sense than the way it’s actually said. At first I didn’t get the saying either @noelleptc but now I get it.

Seelix's avatar

Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense unless you realize that “have” means “keep” in this case.

josie's avatar

If you eat the cake, you won’t have it anymore.
Sort of like, if you spend the money, you can not spend it anymore.
It means you cannot believe in two opposite principles. You can not have it both ways-like @optimisticpessimist says.

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Bellatrix's avatar

Actually if it is a fruit cake made with alcohol, they can keep for years (I believe, never eaten one I have to say. I am an EAT your cake person). People often keep them for christenings and as has been suggested first year anniversaries.

flo's avatar

I think it means you can’t be greedy in general.

faye's avatar

My mom used to say this to me all the time and it made me furious! Somebody finally told me the meaning. Yeah, stupid saying, like the burning the candle at both ends saying. I always get an image of pudgy fingers holding a candle in the middle, horizontally.

Brian1946's avatar

Actually, you can eat your cake and have it too, if you want to keep it in whatever post-digested form you choose. ;-)

chocolatechip's avatar

You can eat your cake and have it too if you don’t eat all of it. ;)

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@chocolatechip The part you have eaten you can no longer have (at least, not in cake form.)

Mattleonard's avatar

This is most often used negatively, meaning an individual owning a thing, and still attempting to benefit from or use it. It may also indicate having or wanting more than one can handle or deserve, or trying to have two incompatible things. The proverb’s meaning is similar to the phrases, “you can’t have it both ways” and “you can’t have the best of both worlds.

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