- (formerly) a promenade or march, of black American origin, in which the couples with the most intricate or eccentric steps received cakes as prizes.
- a dance with a strutting step based on this promenade.
- music for this dance.
- Informal. something easy, sure, or certain.
verb (used without object)
- to walk or dance in or as if in a cakewalk.
- a dance based on a march with intricate steps, originally performed by African-Americans with the prize of a cake for the best performers
- a piece of music composed for this dance
- informal an easily accomplished task
- (intr) to perform the cakewalk
1863, American English, from cake (n.) + walk (n.), probably in reference to the cake given as a prize for the fanciest steps in a procession in a Southern black custom (explained by Richard H. Thornton, 1912, as, “A walking competition among negroes,” in which the prize cake goes to “the couple who put on most style”). Its figurative meaning of “something easy” (1863) is recorded before the literal one (1879). As a verb, from 1909. This may also be the source of the phrase to take the cake (1847).