You can’t have your cake and eat it too is a popular proverbial phrase, which retains the meaning of people not being able to have all good aspects of things; they have to make a choice.
The expression first emerged in the 16th century, with one of the earliest example of it appearing in a 1538 letter by Thomas, Duke of Norfolk sent to Thomas Cromwell with the words “a man cannot have his cake and eat his cake”.
It would be used throughout the centuries, appearing in several letters and documents in several different wordings.
The current variation of the phrase, which is described by many as based on a faulty logic (due to the double-entendre of the word “have”, which can be used synonymously for “eat” as in “have breakfast”) started taking over other variants in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
“You can’t have cake and eat it too” was first written about on Urban Dictionary in 2005.
- The New York Times Magazin – ‘Have Your Cake and Eat It Too’
- Business Insider – Here’s what ‘have your cake and eat it too’ really means