Have your cake and eat it too

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You can’t have your cake and eat it too is a proverb, which is a phrase that illustrates a well-known piece of wisdom or a universal truth. We will examine the meaning of the term you can’t have your cake and eat it too, where it may have come from and some examples of its use in sentences.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too means you must make a choice, you cannot have it both ways. Literally, if someone wants to retain possession of a cake he cannot eat it, these two choices are mutually exclusive. The same sentiment of the necessity of making a choice may be found in the Albanian proverb that says you cannot take a swim and not get wet, or the German saying that states you cannot dance at two weddings at the same time. The oldest known use of the proverb you can’t have your cake and eat it too was in a letter from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell in 1538. In British English, the last word is often omitted from the proverb, as in you can’t have your cake and eat it.


Continentals mutter about driving a pitiless bargain: no eat-your-cake-and-have-it-too nonsense about independent British access to the EU’s prized single market. (The Ottawa Citizen)

I give you Mary Beard, the classicist: “I really don’t think you can have your cake and eat it — you can’t whitewash Rhodes out of history but go on using his cash.” (The National Review)

But a situation where you claim to be a Civil Society activist today and tomorrow you are collecting money from politicians and political parties to do their biddings, just know that you cannot eat your cake and have it. (The Nigerian Observer)