5

I'm looking for a Latin phrase that means "very easy", something idiomatic like "It's a piece of cake", or "It's like taking candy from a baby".

Any ideas?

2
  • Good question! I don't know of a colorful Latin idiom for that purpose, but you can use the adjective perfacilis before you find one.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 23 '17 at 16:50
  • There's a good expression for the opposite: Facilius sit Nili caput invenire. = "It would be easier to find the source of the Nile."
    – brianpck
    Apr 24 '17 at 14:29
4

When my dictionary was written. it was not "as easy as falling off a chair;" try possibly= sicut declinans de clino nor even "like a knife through butter;" try possibly= facile, sicut culter per butyrum. But here is the authentic idiomatic entry:

As easy as kiss my hand, declive; facillime; nullo negotio (Ainsworth)

nullo negotio is a business term; 'no great trouble.' The phrase is used by Cicero,

Nihil esse negotii probatur, 'I suppose it to be a very easy matter.'

and Plautus,

Neque de hac re negotium est, quin male occidam; 'In this matter all things ran smoothly to my destruction.'

2
  • Could you specify what dictionary you are citing? Also: I think it's worth noting that the bolded part is an (antiquated) English idiom which is translated by pretty vanilla Latin equivalents. While useful, I don't think these quite qualify as idioms.
    – brianpck
    Apr 24 '17 at 18:29
  • 1
    @brianpck, Ainsworth Latin-English Dictionary (Rivington, London) archive.org/details/ainsworthslatind00ains Negotium commonly means business affairs; so nullo negotio is as close to an idiom as I could get. "No hassle."
    – Hugh
    Apr 24 '17 at 20:58
3

There is actually a pretty good equivalent:

Tam facile quam pirum volpes comest. (as easy as a fox eats a pear).

Originally from Plautus:

tam facile vinces quam pirum volpes comest.

There might be an ambiguity in this expression as the footnote in my linked doc suggests (However, it seems most sources does treat this as "as easy .."):

This may either mean, very easily indeed, or not at all. It is not clear that a fox will eat a pear; but if he does, his teeth will go through it with the greatest ease. Not improbably, Tranio uses the expression for its ambiguity.


A second option of the same style is to be found in Seneca The Younger

Tam facile, quam canis adsidit. (as easily as a dog sits down)


Yet, another possible (however violent) suggestion to describe something that should be easily done would be plumbeo gladio jugulare:

cum illum plumbeo gladio iugulatum iri tamen diceret. (saying that a leaden sword was good enough to cut his throat.) Cic. trans.

L&S reckons this as a proverb (I think it is proverbial in Cic. already) and assigned this meaning: "with very little trouble", which I think might fit here.

So just to retain the same tempo/stance of the English "It's a piece of cake", maybe (having no attestation whatsoever) one can shorten a bit and say simply: (cum) plumbeo gladio- the full proverb will be implied here. Example: "tam facile est! plumbeo gladio queo facere"

  • it is not exactly parallel to the English "It's like taking candy from a baby", since here is a description of the amount of energy should be invested in order to make a thing happen (rather than the act itself): "with dull sword" i.e with quite weak sword.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.