Posted by Fred on December 10, 2003
In Reply to: One way posted by ESC on December 09, 2003
: : : :
: : : : Anybody would like to share the meaning of it with me?
: : : You can only choose one of two mutually exclusive courses. You can't have your cake and eat it.
: : Shouldn't it be: 'You can't eat your cake and have it'?
: There are variations.
: YOU CAN'T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO - "Once you've eaten your cake, this familiar proverb reminds us, you cannot cry as a child would about not having your cake anymore. The saying in its earliest form read, 'Wolde you bothe eate your cake, and haue your cake?' which appeared in John Heywood's 'A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue' .?" "You can't eat your cake and have your cake" appeared in John Ray's 'A collection of English Proverbs' . The modern version, 'We cannot have our cake and eat it too,' was recorded in a document relating to the war of 1812. From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993). "You can't have your cake and eat it too -- One can't use something up and still have it to enjoy. This proverb was recorded in the book of proverbs by John Heywood in 1546, and is first attested in the United States in the 1742 'Colonial Records of Georgia' in 'Original Papers, 1735-1752.' The adage is found in varying forms: You can't eat your cake and have it too. You can't have everything and eat it too; Eat your cake and have the crumbs in bed with you, etc. ..." From the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman.
: Going back to the original question:
: YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS - "Life sometimes presents you with two opposing alternatives, and according to this maxim, you must choose between them. The saying itself appears to be of recent origin, the earliest recorded version probably being 'You can't have anything both ways at once,' which appeared in George Bernard Shaw's 'Fanny's First Play' . The exact wording of the current version was recorded some years later in Rex Stout's 'Broken Vase' , though it was likely in use beforehand." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).
The trouble with the have/eat variation is that it is possible to have your cake
and then eat it.