Take the cake
Where does that expression come from?
As the semantics are "to win," as a prize, as in a contest, and cakes are quite commonly prizes in myriad contests throughout the Western tradition, the emergence of the phrase as cliché would be slow and diffuse. It should be noted that the meaning is often ironic and rather than refer to a literally superior case, it could rather refer to the most outrageous. The Morris Dictionary places it as far back as winning drinking contests in ancient Greece, but also notes Irish dance contests in which a cake would be awarded as the prize. Also cited are walking contests held by blacks of the Southern US which is attributed as a root to the phrase cakewalk as well.
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