The Cherry On The Cake Mmmmm Cake Idioms
Summary: The Cherry On The Cake
This English “listen & learn” lesson is all about putting the cherry on the cake of English cake idioms. There are many cake idioms, used regularly in everyday English conversation and we are here to help you understand them. As confusing as English idioms can be at least these idioms are fun because they are about cake. Let’s face it cake is popular with most people!
Although when these idioms or popular phrases were first used in the UK (nobody has an accurate date, but presumably it was after cake they invented cake and cherry got imported to the UK). The origin started because cake was a special thing only consumed on special occasions and only available to the rich so something highly desirable. And the cherry (or icing) on top would have been an absolute luxury for most of the people living in the UK.
So having something special and then having an even more special thing as well suited the cake and cherry analogy of the day. To be honest cake with icing and a cherry on top are still a treat even in 2018. So I think this is the reason that cake idioms are still popular in everyday English.
Audio Transcript: The Cherry On The Cake Mmmmm Cake Idioms
Hi there and welcome to this Monday podcast from Adept English. If you’re here because you’re learning English and you want to improve your understanding of genuine spoken English language, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got lots of podcasts for you – and courses too! These are just what you need, if you want to improve your fluency in English!
So today’s podcast. I thought it was time that we did another group of idioms. Idioms, if you remember, are those phrases in English, which are difficult to understand. They catch you out because their meaning isn’t obvious from the words used. English is full of them and we use them all the time. So it’s good to have an understanding of idioms. Today I’ve chosen to cover idioms which use the word ‘cake’.
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You probably know the word ‘cake’, C-A-K-E, but in case you don’t or you’ve forgotten it, cake is something sweet. It has sugar in it. You might buy it with your coffee in the morning or you may bake your own cakes in the oven at home. Examples of types of cake – Lemon Cake, Fruit Cake, Chocolate cake. You might also know the French word ‘gateau’ which means basically the same thing.
The Clue To What The Cherry On Top Of The Cake Might Be Will Be In The Sentence
So one of the cake idioms we’ve already covered in an Adept English podcast, is where someone says ‘Oh, it’s a piece of cake!’ If you go back and look at podcast 102 about English phrases for ‘Easy’, then you’ll find some more examples of this idiom. So that tells you the meaning. If someone says ‘It’s a piece of cake’, it’s another way of saying ‘It’s easy’. So if you’ve just sat an exam and you come out of it all happy, because you found the exam easy, you could do it, you might say ‘That was a piece of cake’.
Or you might help someone with a problem on their computer, which they’ve been struggling with. And you’re good with computers, so you come in and have a look and it’s fixed. So again you say ‘No problem, it was a piece of cake’. It’s difficult to say where this idiom comes from,I guess. But maybe if you like cake, it’s an easy thing to eat. Perhaps easier than eating your vegetables, if you don’t like them so much.
You Could Say “You can’t eat your cake and [but still] have it too” Meaning Once You’ve Used It It’s Gone!
Another cake idiom, which you’ll hear and there are a number of versions of this. It goes something like ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it’. Or ‘She wants her cake and eat it too’. Well, this sounds a silly expression. Basically you’re saying ‘You can’t have cake and expect to eat it as well’? I’m not sure what the point of having cake is, if you’re not able to eat it? But we say this when we think that a person has too much expectation.
They want two things that can’t possibly go together, that are incompatible. So perhaps the phrase means that ‘You can’t eat the cake and also continue to possess it, also continue to have it’. Once you’ve eaten it, it’s gone! That would make more sense.
So an example of where this might be used could be – let’s be topical – the UK cannot leave the EU and continue to benefit from being a member of the EU, say for trade. So if we expect to have ‘frictionless trade’ then that would be us wanting to have our cake and expecting to eat it too’. That’s if we’re leaving the EU, of course. And if you were married and had a girlfriend – and your wife found out about it. Oh dear – not a good situation. But if you expected to keep all the benefits of being married, but you wanted to have your girlfriend at the same time, then you would be guilty of ‘wanting your cake and eat it’. Clearly that’s not going to work!
Sometimes (Possibly for people with a sweet tooth!) You Will Hear “The Icing On The Cake” rather than “Cherry”
Another cake idiom that we use – there are again a couple of variations here. A variation means something similar, but not quite the same. You sometimes hear people say ‘And the icing on the cake is…..’ or even ‘The cherry on the cake is…..’ So a couple of bits of vocabulary here. Obviously you now understand the word ‘cake’. If you’re talking about icing then you might think that this is something to do with winter and icy roads or snow. Well, no. We might, I guess, use the word ‘icing’ there – you might say that a lake is ‘icing over’ if it’s very cold. That means that the water on the top is freezing, the lake is going to be covered with ice. But in the context of cake, icing doesn’t mean that you’re putting ice on the top of the cake. Icing usually means a sugary topping, a layer on the top of the cake which is made of sugar or something sweet.
It could be chocolate icing or coffee icing. If you have a ‘cherry on the top’ of your cake, then it’s just that, the cake is decorated with a cherry. And a cherry is of course a kind of fruit. It’s red and it comes from a tree. It has a stone in the middle. And the ones that go on top of cakes tend to be very sugary and bright red. So what is the meaning of the phrase ‘the icing on the cake’ or ‘the cherry on the top of the cake’? Well, we mean here that there’s a good situation – something that’s good, but the icing on the cake is the thing which makes it really, really good.
So you might be moving into a new flat. And you’re describing the flat to someone else. And you say ‘Ooh, it’s really nice, it’s big, it’s nicely decorated. But the icing on the cake is the view out of the window!’ Meaning that the flat is really good already, but the view out of the window makes it even nicer! Another example – you could be talking about your new job. And you say ‘Well, the job is really interesting, I get to travel a fair bit and the pay is good. But the cherry on the top is that I get to work at home 2 days a week. How good is that?’
The Cherry on The Cake of This English Language Podcast Is It’s FREE
Another phrase which you might hear sometimes is ‘Selling like hot cakes’. So this is often said when there is an offer, a discount, a sale on. It was Black Friday weekend recently. So there were lots of deals, lots of offers online – offers of money off, things you can buy. That’s what Black Friday is all about. So you might say ‘They were selling like hot cakes’. I guess the meaning of this one is obvious, though it is an idiom, it’s not a literal meaning. If you can imagine how well hot cakes might sell to hungry people, who are outside, who can smell hot cake, then that’s what ‘selling like hot cakes means’. They’re selling really well – lots and lots and lots and lots of people are buying them.
And our last phrase today? Well, this one is just for interest, just for a bit of fun! I imagine that you Adept English listeners are all lovely people and you wouldn’t want to be rude to someone. So this final idiom connected with cake is a bit rude. So it’s more something that people say to each other in jest, when they know each other really well. ‘In jest’ means it’s not serious, it’s a joke, they’re having a bit of fun. They’re saying it to make you laugh, rather than that they really want to be rude. So the phase is ‘Shut your cake hole!’ You might say this to someone you know well, who’s teasing you, who’s making fun of you. I don’t know that the expression ‘cake hole’ is ever used in any other context than this one. But here your ‘cake hole’ means your mouth.
So it’s ‘shut your mouth’. Your ‘cake hole’ is the hole in the middle of your face, perhaps where you would insert cake. So this really isn’t the sort of thing you would say to your boss, if you were having a disagreement. That would be a bad idea. But if your partner or your friend, who you know well is making fun of you or teasing you or maybe you’re teasing them. Then ‘Shut your cake hole!’ might be something that you could hear. Use with caution, though I think that one! So your ‘cake hole’.
So that’s it.
The cake idioms for today are
- A piece of cake
- To have your cake and eat it
- Selling like hot cakes
- The icing on the cake or the cherry on the cake ….or
- Shut your cake hole!
I hope you find this one useful. Don’t forget, listen to the podcast a number of times, until it becomes easy for you to understand every word. And this will help you no end, with your English fluency in general. And it will also mean that these idioms have a chance of sticking in your mind, so you’ll know the meaning of them when you hear them.
If you like this podcast, then do go and have a look at our website. You’re missing out if you haven’t visited it to see what we have on offer on the website – lots of really great English language learning material at adeptenglish.com.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: All This Talk Of Cake Makes Me Hungry, Cherry Or Icing Or Both I Don't Mind!
So having a great English lesson from Adept English and it being FREE! Is a perfect example of The cherry on the cake idiom. However, as always you cannot ignore the 80% of everyday English, you will listen to along with the explanation of all these cake idioms.
This is the real icing on the cake (I promise to stop using cake idioms!!) of using the Adept English “Listen & learn” system of learning to speak English. You're not just learning about the specific topic, that's just a way of making the lesson interesting.
Hopefully, we make the lesson interesting enough so you will listen to the audio many times. It's the repeat listening of all the English words used in the podcast that encourages your brain to store the words you listen to in your long-term memory. This makes speaking English so much easier as the words come automatically when you need them without having to translate.