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by Abigail Van Buren

To Eat Your Cake and Have It Too Is a Pretty Good Trick

DEAR ABBY: The phrase, "You can't have your cake and eat it too," has always bothered me. I wonder why not? I do it all the time. I have my cake -- and then I eat it.

Recently I read somewhere that the correct phrase is "You can't eat your cake and have it too." This makes much more sense to me.

Which is the correct version? Abby, can you check this out? Sign me ... HAD MY CAKE, THEN ATE IT

DEAR HAD MY CAKE: I checked it out, and the second version is the correct one. Quote books attribute it first to Thomas Heywood in 1546. He wrote, "Wolde you bothe eate your cake, and haue your cake?"

Somewhat later (in 1633), George Herbert phrased the saying, "Wouldst thou both eat thy cake and have it?" This popular criticism was also variously rendered: "She was handsome in her time, but she cannot eat her cake and have her cake" (Swift, 1738); "You can't have your cake if you eat it" (J.R. Planche, 1871); and finally, "One cannot eat one's cake and have it, too" (T.H. Huxley, 1880).

Readers, have you had enough cake already? I have -- unless it's chocolate.