You Can’t Have Your ‘Cake’ And Eat It Too

A new daily prompt via Daily Prompt: Cake

This saying has been around for a long time, often used among the older population, but is still very well known. However, do we actually know what it means? I’ve found over time, lots of saying have been twisted, changed, or even cropped to change it’s context entirely.

The proverb literally means “you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it”. Once the cake is eaten, it is gone. It can be used to say that one cannot or should not have or want more than one deserves or can handle, or that one cannot or should not try 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.”

Many people misunderstand the meanings of “have” and “eat” as used here but still understand the proverb in its entirety and intent and use it in this form. Some people feel this form of the proverb is incorrect and illogical and instead prefer “you can’t eat your cake and have it (too)”, which is in fact closer to the original form of the proverb but uncommon today. Other rare variants use “keep” instead of “have”. -Wikipedia

Now, all of that might seem confusing, I know, I’m confused too. My interpretation of the old saying is this; That all ‘good’ things, have a consequence. You can’t have these without the consequences that come along with it, and wanting it any other way is just illogical.

Examples I’ve heard in my life are very broad. Everything from cheating on your partner, to actually eating cake.”You can’t have a mistress/mister and a good relationship with your wife/husband” or something along those lines.

What’s your interpretation of it? What examples have you got of the saying?


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