Posted by Smokey Stover on June 06, 2007
In Reply to: Cake eaters posted by ESC on May 31, 2007
: : : : : : : What is the meaning of the phrase "cake eaters"? I kind of understand the having your cake and eating it too, but this one is a little confusing. So if anyone knows please fill me in on this one.
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: : : : : : Sounds confusing all right. One is reminded of the Marie Antoinette quip "let them eat cake", when told the poor had no bread. So are cake eaters rich because they can afford cake, or is this an ironic reference to the poor?
: : : : : : A more straightforward term for the unfortunate is "cake sniffers", a favorite taunt of the odious child-villian Carmelita Spats who first appeared in The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket. The implication is that the cake sniffer is too poor to afford to buy cake and can only smell it in the air as they pass the bakery.
: : : : : Picture a man at a ladies' tea party, eating a bit of cake on a delicate plate. As near as I can tell from entries online, it was a 1920s phrase for a dandy or an effeminate man. See image at http://www.indiana.edu/~jah/teaching/2001_03/sources/image_cake_eater.shtml
: : : : Cake-eater ' ''a term whose first recorded use is attributed to Thomas Dorgan (TAD) in his comic strip of November 17, 1918, and described by 'The Flapper's Dictionary' as ''any guy who is addicted to noodle juice parties, one who nibbles at cakes at such parties. One who wears his mop up his sleeve, opposite to a he-man. A sissy.' Page 30. Noodle juice = tea. Mop = handkerchief. Page 16. 'Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang' by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996). ''an impecunious youth who spent a lot of time at tea parties and other places where free food was an offer. Also called a 'heavy-cake' or 'tea-hound.' Page 29. 'The Twenties' chapter in 'Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers: A Decade by Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century' by Rosemarie Ostler (Oxford University Press, New York, 2003).
: : : : Impecunious = habitually poor. I had to look that up.
: : : :I thought your definition was wrong at first for 'impecunious' as I have always heard it used for reckless with money.The dictionaries-at least the big OED- however,do not even mention this usage.Does anyone else know of the usage of the word to mean reckless with money?
: : We don't deal with single words here - phrases only please.
: All I know I learned from Merriam-Webster.
The OED uses, where it can and by preference, a hyphen for common two-word phrases. Such an one is cake-eater, which they define thus:
d. cake-eater U.S. slang, a self-indulgent or effeminate man; a playboy....
Their example, mostly consonant with what has been adduced above, is: "1922 Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Okla.) 6 Jan. 10/4 He calls us 'lounge lizards, tea drinkers, *cake eaters and all that'."