Pies and pie idioms

Apple pie, meat pie . . .

Pies are popular in British cuisine: we eat apple pies, mince pies, chicken and mushroom pies, and many other kinds. We have them during the day; we can have them for dinner. We eat them alone; we eat them with side dishes.

The pie tradition goes back a long way and I suppose that explains why we have so many idioms centred around pies.

We’ll have a look at five of those idioms here. Before we get started, however, let’s make sure we know what a pie is.

What is a pie?

A pie is baked pastry with either a sweet filling (fruit) or a savoury filling – typically meat or vegetables. We usually eat savoury pies hot, while sweet pies are eaten both hot and cold.

pie in the sky

A delicious-looking apple pie

Five common pie idioms

As easy as pie

This means that something is or was very easy. (Delicious pies are easy to eat!)

The exam was as easy as pie – of course I’ll pass.

As nice as pie

If someone is very friendly to you when you’re expecting them not to be, we say that person is acting as nice as pie.

I couldn’t believe it: we had a huge argument and then the next day he was as nice as pie to me.

Have a finger in every pie

This means ‘to be involved in many different things and to have an influence in many different places’. The idiom is derogatory and suggests that other people disapprove of so much involvement and influence.

Martin’s a full-time teacher, but he’s also a local councillor. And he runs the local museum, too! He definitely likes to have a finger in every pie.

Eat humble pie

We eat humble pie when we’re shown to be wrong and as a result have to act humbly.

I think I’m right, but I’ll eat humble pie if I’m wrong.

Pie in the sky

We use this to say that something is unlikely to happen, even though we hope it will happen.

His plans to travel the world are just pie in the sky – he always talks about it but he knows he’ll never do it.

Be careful with pie in the sky, as it can have several different meanings. The above example shows the context I use it in. The Free Dictionary lists some other meanings here.

What do you think?

Are you a pie lover? Maybe you’re just an idiom lover. Feel free to leave a comment below and perhaps let me know if you have any similar idioms in your language.

Want to learn more food idioms? Try our free Food Idioms course (B2 / upper-intermediate)

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.


  1. Anna Chen - February 17, 2015, 9:16 am Reply

    Here’s my share with Food’ idiom : I think I’m right, but if I’m wrong, I’ll eat humble pie. You think you’re so smart. I hope you have to eat humble pie.

  2. toka esam - October 14, 2015, 9:02 pm Reply

    yes . i think there’s a similar idiom in my language we usually say
    ” he ate the mouthcloser ”
    the mouthcloser : it’s kind of pies the old Egyptian farmers used to bake , it contains a lot of fat and when you eat it you kinda become speachless because you will want to fall asleep
    we use this idiom when we talk to someone and he doesn’t reply

  3. David - July 11, 2016, 12:49 am Reply


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