A fool, a poor thing. (Cf. HALF-BAKED.)
To take the cake. To carry off the prize. The reference is to the prize-cake to the person who succeeded best in a given competition. In Notes and Queries (Feb. 27th, 1892, p. 176) a correspondent of New York tells us of a “cake walk” by the Southern negroes. It consists of walking round the prize cake in pairs, and umpires decide which pair walk the most gracefully. In ancient Greece a cake was the award of the toper who held out the longest.
In Ireland the best dancer in a dancing competition was rewarded, at one time, by a cake.
“A churn-dish stuck into the earth supported on its flat end a cake, which was to become the prize of the best dancer. ... At length the competitors yielded their claims to a young man ... who, taking the cake, placed it gallantly in the lap of a pretty girl to whom ... he was about to be married.” —Bartlett and Coyne: Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland, vol. ii. p. 64.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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