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cakewalk

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 7:27 pm
by Archived Topic
I have been trying to find the origin of the work Cakewalk. Does anyone have some information?

I have found only one brief reference in an etymology book that I have. I am paraphrasing here... It says that it may have originated in the 1860s from the practice of giving the winner of a "walking contest" a cake. Sometime around the late 1800s is got the meaning "something easy."

Submitted by Bill Bates (San Jose - U.S.A.)

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 7:41 pm
by Archived Reply
Well, I kept searching and I have found confirmation of my etymology book and a lot more explanation. Without trying to explain it all here, for those interested, here is a good resource for the word...

http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3cake1.htm

Thanks...

Bill
Reply from ( - )

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 7:56 pm
by Archived Reply
Now why can't more people answer their own questions, like Bill here? That sure would make the WordWizards' jobs easier! *G*
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:10 pm
by Archived Reply
Okay, one problem with my excitement... althoug we learn where the word came from, we still have no definative answer on where the moden meaning came from...
Reply from Bill Bates (San Jose - U.S.A.)

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:25 pm
by Archived Reply
Perhaps his real first name is Master.
Reply from ( - )

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:39 pm
by Archived Reply
I'm just guessing here, Bill, but I'd bet the modern meaning derives from the older "cakewalk." Here in the Midwest, one can still occasionally find a cakewalk, usually at a fall festival or county fair. All the participants (who each pay a small fee) walk around a numbered circle until the music stops (kind of like musical chairs). Then, a number is drawn; whoever is standing on that number wins a cake. Since the only requirement for winning a cake is knowing how to walk (and how to stop), it's a pretty easy contest to win. Eventually, the term "cakewalk" came to mean anything that was extremely easy.
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:53 pm
by Archived Reply
cake·walk (kāk'wôk')
n.
Something easily accomplished: Winning the race was a cakewalk for her.
A 19th-century public entertainment among African Americans in which walkers performing the most accomplished or amusing steps won cakes as prizes.

A strutting dance, often performed in minstrel shows.
The music for this dance.
intr.v., -walked, -walk·ing, -walks.
To perform a strutting dance.

cake'walk'er n.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Leif, WA, USA
Reply from ( - )

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 9:08 pm
by Archived Reply
Hey K Allen Griffy, if everyone answered their own question there would be no need for Wordwizard! There are a great many of us who thoroughly enjoy reading the enlightening answers and some of us get tired of your complaints about how dumb we are.
Reply from ( - )

Cakewalk?

Posted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 9:51 pm
by Archived Reply
I've working on a Fall festival and been trying to figure out what the old time Cake Wwalk was. I'm in the Midwest (Kansas) and I got my answer from K Allen Griffy, Springfield, ILL. Thanks!
Reply from ( - )

A cakewalk

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:41 pm
by Mel
I always thought that a cakewalk meant something that was easy to accomplish.
Wikipedia states that is originates from a dance competition among slaves with a large cake as the prize. Could there be another origin for this phrase?

Re: A cakewalk

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:52 pm
by Bobinwales
I have always known about the dance, and because I knew about it I just accepted that it was a dance with easy steps. I'll bet that Ken will know more though.

Re: A cakewalk

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 pm
by Edwin F Ashworth
Didn't they originate with Bach's Battenburg Concertos, and find their fullest development in the popular late Victorian tea dance?

Re: A cakewalk

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:16 pm
by marie26
Didn't they originate with Bach's Battenburg Concertos
I think you mean BRACH'S. In which case, wouldn't it be a candy walk?

Re: A cakewalk

Posted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:32 pm
by Edwin F Ashworth
I don't think so, Marie. American dance sweets are far less common than European.

Re: A cakewalk

Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:39 am
by trolley
A cake walk was a game of chance that we used to play at social functions like church picnics and such. It was a fund-raiser. People donated baked goods and other people would purchase tickets to participate in a "musical chairs" sort of contest to win the goodies. The tickets were very cheap and there was a very good chance you would "win". It was a cake walk.