you-cant-have-your-cake-and-eat-itThe proverbial idiom ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it’ means that one should not expect or try to have more than seems reasonable. The earliest recorded use of the phrase is in a letter from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, to Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell, dated 14 March 1538, in which he wrote, “A man can not have his cake and eat his cake”; although in fact, the Tudor king was to try to do just that with his dismissal of numerous wives, the Catholic Pope, and indeed Cromwell himself, who was beheaded in 1540. For the rest of us, the idiom advises that it is better to be realistic. Similar to the phrases ‘You can’t have it both ways’ and ‘You can’t have the best of both worlds’, ‘Having one’s cake and eating it’ is a rare privilege that only comes when one does not expect it!

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