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Q&A: Tracing phrase's origin? 'A piece of cake'

'A piece of cake': How sweet it is

What is the origin of the phrase "a piece of cake" in regard to something that is easy?

The saying "piece of cake" first appeared in print in a 1935 Ogden Nash poem, Primrose Path. Nash, an American writer and poet, wrote:

"Her picture's in the papers now,

"And life's a piece of cake."

The Royal Air Force picked up the phrase in the early years of World War II to describe easy missions. Eric Partridge's book, A Dictionary of Slang, says that "a piece of cake" probably originated with cakewalk, a raid or attack that turns out to be unexpectedly easy or something as easy to take as a piece of cake.

Exploring the new world order

We often hear countries referred to as "Third World countries." What is a First World country and a Second World country?

The terms came into vogue after World War II and largely fell along these lines First World countries were the United States and its allies, Second World countries were the Soviet Union and its allies, and Third World countries were underdeveloped nations that didn't fit into the first two groups.

These days, political scientists generally refer to First World countries as capitalist countries with a high standard of living, an advanced market economy and advanced technology. The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, most of Europe and the Scandinavian countries are examples of First World countries.

Because Second World countries no longer are in the axis of the Soviet Union or communism, almost no one refers to them in those terms. Many of the former Second World countries (Russia, China, the old Soviet republics) are now regarded as First World.

Third World, these days, refers to countries that are being industrialized but are not as advanced as First World countries. Examples would be India, Egypt, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Indonesia. Many call themselves the "Non-Aligned Organization," because they have no alliances with any major power bloc.

And there is now a Fourth World designation (some prefer the term "least developed countries") for those countries that remain primarily agricultural or nomadic and do not have a modern industrial infrastructure. Examples are Afghanistan, Haiti and much of Africa.

Singer takes a crack at country

Whatever happened to the guy who sang in the group Hootie and the Blowfish?

The lead singer in the group, Darius Rucker, the guy who always wore the baseball cap, still plays with the group but has just recorded his first solo country music album, Don't Think I Don't Think About It. It's supposed to be released this fall.

On his MySpace page (www.myspace.com/dariusrucker), Rucker says growing up in South Carolina in the 1970s gave him an appreciation for country music.

Q&A: Tracing phrase's origin? 'A piece of cake' 08/17/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:32pm]
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