Entries linking to seed-cake
Middle English sēd, from Old English sēd (Anglian), sæd (West Saxon), "that which may be sown; an individual grain of seed," from Proto-Germanic *sediz "seed" (source also of Old Norse sað, Old Saxon sad, Old Frisian sed, Middle Dutch saet, Old High German sat, German Saat). This is reconstructed to be from PIE *se-ti- "sowing," from root *sē- "to sow."
Figurative sense of "offspring, progeny, posterity," now rare or archaic except in biblical use, was in Old English; the figurative meaning "that from which anything springs, latent beginning" is by late Old English. From late 14c. as "act or time of sowing." The meaning "semen, male fecundating fluid," also now archaic or biblical, is from c. 1300. For the sporting sense (by 1924), see seed (v.).
early 13c., "flat or comparatively thin mass of baked dough," from Old Norse kaka "cake," from West Germanic *kokon- (source also of Middle Dutch koke, Dutch koek "a cake, gingerbread, dumpling," Old High German kuohho, German Kuchen "a cake, a tart"). Not believed to be related to Latin coquere "to cook," as formerly supposed. Replaced its Old English cognate, coecel.
What man, I trow ye raue, Wolde ye bothe eate your cake and haue your cake? ["The Proverbs & Epigrams of John Heywood," 1562]
Extended mid-15c. to any flat, rounded mass. Extended from early 15c. to "a light composition of flour, sugar, butter and other ingredients baked in any form." To take the cake "win all, rank first" (often ironic) is from 1847, American English; piece of cake "something easy" is from 1936.
The let them eat cake story is found in Rousseau's "Confessions," in reference to an incident c. 1740, long before Marie Antoinette, though it has been associated with her since c. 1870; it apparently was a chestnut in the French royal family that had been told of other princesses and queens before her.
updated on April 12, 2022