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I am looking for a term, expression, word, or idiom to describe a task as an easy one to do or to go through.

What I’d normally say is:

Actually it’s not difficult, it’s as easy as drinking a glass of water.

Does that make sense to a native English speaker? Is there a common idiom?

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There are some common idioms and phrases (many listed below), but I wanted to add, there's nothing wrong with the one you've used. It makes sense to me. –  J.R. Sep 23 '12 at 8:52
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One other note, you may be able to find some of these (plus a few more) in a thesaurus, under synonyms for effortless. –  J.R. Sep 23 '12 at 9:04
    
Just don't forget that "common" idioms are actually "common" in their domains, contexts, geographies or certain periods of language, or even demography, age group, level of the language and so on. Few idioms are appropriate for formal writing, while in informal speech you could be even creative with your own. –  Kris Sep 23 '12 at 13:45
    
Actually drinking a glass of water can be rather difficult for those of us with drinking problems. –  emory Sep 24 '12 at 5:20
    
While this is a great question, I don't see how you expect (or expected) to get a solid, definitive answer. There are many idioms that can be used for whatever you're trying to achieve. –  Souta Oct 12 '12 at 4:19

18 Answers 18

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Piece of cake -- “A piece of cake literally refers to a slice of cake. Idiomatically, the phrase refers to a job, task or other activity that is considered pleasant – or, by extension, easy or simple.” See examples in Google books.

Doddle -- “A job, task or other activity that is simple or easy to complete.” For a dozen brief examples, see page 34 of Materials Development in Language Teaching, edited by Brian Tomlinson.

There also is a slew of “as easy as falling off an X” expressions, where X typically is a log, a horse, a barn.

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I would appreciate any examples you might have. Is "that's a piece of cake" a correct usage of the idiom you mentioned? –  Gigili Sep 23 '12 at 7:10
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+1, @Gigili in your example, the usage would be, "Actually it's not difficult, it's a piece of cake." It may also be worth mentioning that doddle is chiefly BrE. –  Cameron Sep 23 '12 at 7:19
    
Thank you @Cameron. –  Gigili Sep 23 '12 at 7:19
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@Gigili, yes, and also as Cameron mentioned; and the phrase often stands alone as a reply, eg Tom says, “You will have trouble proving that 413-year-old conjecture”, and Jane says, “Piece of cake.” –  jwpat7 Sep 23 '12 at 7:22
    
+1 for piece of cake –  bib Sep 23 '12 at 23:14

Duck soup -- something that is easy to do or accomplish: Fixing the car will be duck soup for anyone with the right tools.

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And there's always a Marx Brothers anarcho-political flavor lurking there somewhere, too. –  John Lawler Sep 24 '12 at 17:15

Actually it's not difficult, it's as easy as _________.

  • 123
  • ABC
  • pie
  • falling off a log
  • can be
  • shooting fish in a barrel (often used as "It's like shooting fish in a barrel")

I'm sure that there are plenty of others ...

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+1 for "easy as falling off a log", which I think is comes closest to the OP's example. (BTW, in addition to "like shooting fish in a barrel", there's also "like taking candy from a baby".) –  ruakh Sep 23 '12 at 15:16

I suggest walkover. The OED records its sporting origin as ‘A contest in which, through absence of competitors, the winner has merely to “walk over” the finish line.’

It has been in general use since at least the mid-nineteenth century to mean ‘Something that is achieved with great ease.’ The OED’s most recent citation is from the UK’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ in 2006: ‘Recruiters warn that ambitious managers looking to pick up a really juicy role won't find it a walk over.’

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I am particularly partial to "breeze":

The exam will be a breeze if you review your notes.

The wiktionary page provides a lot of other similar words:

  • bagatelle
  • cakewalk
  • cinch
  • doddle
  • piece of cake
  • walk in the park
  • walkover

Make sure you know whether the word you're using is meant to be a metaphor or a simile; sometimes it can only be one. For example "The exam was a doddle" (metaphor usage) is correct while "The exam was like a doddle" (simile usage) misuses the word.

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I can never hear that without being reminded of infomercials: "... and cleanup's a breeze!" –  David Aldridge Apr 30 '13 at 20:28

In New Zealand, I often hear "easy-peasy". I've never seen it written down, so don't quote me on the spelling. Obviously, there's an element of rhyming involved and it is more likely to come up in a primary school than in a board room. :-)

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Or even more: "easy peasy japanesy" ... –  GEdgar Sep 24 '12 at 1:45
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"easy-peasy lemon-squeezy" –  David Aldridge Apr 30 '13 at 20:28

I like the term "one banana task" (= what a monkey will do for you for just one banana).

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Not suitable for every context, but piece of piss is well-used in Britain.

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Here are two more:

It's a walk in the park.

It's a Sunday picnic. I can't find an online definition for Sunday picnic, nor does my Shorter Oxford have one, but I've heard and used it many times meaning, well, a breeze, a piece of cake, ABC, easy-peasy...

EDIT - I just thought of a third.

It's a cinch ("Something that is very easy to do").

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There are lots of good answers already, but I am partial to

  1. like taking candy from a baby
  2. it's not rocket surgery
    1. it's not rocket science
    2. it's not brain surgery
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+1 for "rocket surgery" –  Alexander Kosubek Sep 24 '12 at 5:42
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Should've been rocket science. –  Kris Sep 24 '12 at 6:38
    
I'm going to start using 'rocket surgery'. –  DaveP Sep 24 '12 at 13:16
    
@Kris no rocket surgery was deliberate - urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rocket%20surgery - rocket science and brain surgery are two alternatives –  emory Sep 24 '12 at 16:05

Three more:

  • there's nothing to it
    e.g. 'Oh, great! You've fixed the washing machine!' 'Yeah, there was nothing to it, really.'
  • be child's play
    e.g. Life today is child's play compared to how it was 100 years ago.
  • anyone can do something
    e.g. I don't know why you think you're so clever - anyone can do that.

Source: Longman Language Activator

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I haven't used this in a long time, but in school I might have said "It's a cynch." Now I'd be more likely to say "It's easy-peasy."

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  • duck soup
  • easy as pie
  • like falling off a log
  • like shooting fish in a barrel
  • like stealing candy from a baby
  • no sweat
  • simple as ABC
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Not sure about the "baby" one, and to a lesser extent, the "fish" one. To me, both of those convey either guilt or pleasure derived from taking advantage of something/someone else. –  us2012 Mar 17 '13 at 17:32
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@us2012 As an American speaker, I disagree. Shooting fish in a barrel is a perfect replacement for the question, and candy from a baby does not imply guilt. –  SpellingD Mar 17 '13 at 18:02

There are many similar phrases:

cushy, a cinch, a doddle, a piece of cake, a pushover, a cakewalk, a walk in the park, easy as ABC, easy-peasy, easy as pie, child's play, like falling off a log, not rocket science

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A popular one is:

A job for my left hand

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Really? I’ve never heard that one before. –  tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 14:05
    
It conveys the fact that the job is so easy, that it can be done with your (weaker)left hand. Its a popular saying in India. Pardon me, I should have mentioned it. –  anuvabh Mar 17 '13 at 14:08
    
But I’m left-handed. –  tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 14:19

In the UK some of us (not the genteel ones) use the term piece of piss.

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If it's in relation to paid work that is very undemanding, then "sinecure" would be the correct word.

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It's like taking candy from a baby

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