Can of Corn: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 9, 2023

The idiom "Can of Corn" holds a unique and interesting position. This idiomatic expression, rooted deeply in American baseball culture, denotes something easy or straightforward. The simplicity of catching a fly ball in baseball, much like picking a can off a supermarket shelf, is the crux of this phrase. In baseball, the term is commonly used to refer to a high, lazy fly ball that a fielder effortlessly catches. In a broader context, the idiom implies a task that can be performed without any difficulty or challenge.

In short:

"Can of Corn" is an idiom signifying an easy task, originating from the game of baseball.

What Does "Can of Corn" Mean?

At its most basic level, the phrase "Can of Corn" is used to describe something that is simple, straightforward, or easy to accomplish. It's an idiom that signifies ease and effortlessness in carrying out a task. The essence of this phrase is rooted in American culture, specifically tied to baseball and the imagery of old grocery stores.

Here are some of the key aspects of this phrase's meaning:

  • Ease: The fundamental concept of the phrase "Can of Corn" is the ease or simplicity of a task. If something is a "can of corn," it's easily done and requires minimal effort or skill.
  • Reliability: A "Can of Corn" task is reliable and predictable. The outcome is almost always guaranteed, just as a grocer could reliably catch the falling can of corn.
  • Effortlessness: The phrase often implies that the person performing the task does so with little strain or stress, much like an experienced baseball player catching a simple fly ball.

The idiom "Can of Corn" has become a part of everyday vernacular, expanding from its roots in baseball to be used in various other contexts. Whether referring to an easy task at work, a simple question on a test, or a straightforward decision in life, when something is a "Can of Corn," it's as easy as catching a softly hit baseball or reaching for that canned good on the grocery store shelf.

Where Does "Can of Corn" Come From?

The idiom "Can of Corn" has a history as fascinating as the game of baseball itself. The idiom originated from the old American grocery store practice where shopkeepers pulled down canned goods from high shelves with a hooked stick. The can would fall for an easy catch into their aprons, much like a fly ball in baseball. The most commonly fetched item was a can of corn, hence the phrase.

Historical Usage

"With two out in the ninth, DiMaggio hit a 'can of corn' to left fielder Hartnett..."

-New York Times, 1949

10 Examples of "Can of Corn" in Sentences

Here are ten sentences illustrating the use of "Can of Corn" in various contexts:

  • Hey, they're organizing a friendly baseball match this weekend. If they need an extra player or a can of corn, count me in!
  • He considered the math problem a can of corn and solved it in seconds.
  • With her baking skills, making that cake was a can of corn.
  • During the team meeting, Sarah effortlessly looped in her colleagues on the new project, making it as easy as opening a can of corn.
  • He's a skilled player, so that move is just a can of corn for him.
  • Compared to my previous job, this one is a can of corn.
  • During the baseball game, the commentator shed some light on the pitch that seemed like a can of corn, explaining how the batter effortlessly caught the ball.
  • The interview was a can of corn because he was well-prepared.
  • For a seasoned driver, navigating through traffic is a can of corn.
  • After effortlessly catching the high fly ball in the outfield, Sarah exclaimed, Can of corn! Good on you!

Examples of "Can of Corn" in Pop Culture

Let's take a look at how "Can of Corn" has permeated pop culture, particularly in films, literature, and songs:

  • In the movie Field of Dreams, the commentator refers to an easy outfield catch as a "can of corn."
  • The TV show Psych used the term "can of corn" to describe an easy case.
  • In the novel Calico Joe by John Grisham, a "can of corn" is used to describe a simple, easy-to-catch fly ball.
  • The baseball-themed movie For Love of the Game features the line, "That's a can of corn," referring to an effortlessly caught fly ball.
  • In Bullet Points, a novel by Marko Kloos, a character describes an easy task as a "can of corn."
  • The song "Can of Corn" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band utilizes the idiom in the lyrics.
  • Stephen King used the phrase "can of corn" in his novel Doctor Sleep to refer to a simple task.
  • On the podcast The Dollop, the hosts occasionally refer to an easy topic as a "can of corn."

Other Ways to Say "Can of Corn"

There are numerous alternatives to the idiom "Can of Corn" that convey a similar meaning.

Some of these include:

  • That was a walk in the park.
  • It was as simple as ABC for her.
  • He found it easy as pie.
  • For me, it's a piece of cake.
  • It was no sweat for him.
  • She thought it was a breeze.
  • It was child's play for them.
  • The task was duck soup.
  • For her, it was as smooth as silk.
  • He described it as clear sailing.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Can of Corn"

  • Q: What does "Can of Corn" mean?

"Can of Corn" is an idiom that denotes something easy or straightforward, often used to describe a task that can be done without difficulty.

  • Q: Where does the idiom "Can of Corn" come from?

The term originated from baseball, referring to an easily caught fly ball. It's also linked to the practice in old American grocery stores where canned goods were retrieved using a stick.

  • Q: How is "Can of Corn" used in sentences?

The idiom is typically used to describe an easy task or event. For example, "Solving that math problem was a can of corn."

  • Q: Can "Can of Corn" be used in formal writing?

While the idiom is not necessarily informal, it's best used in casual or conversational contexts rather than formal writing.

  • Q: Does "Can of Corn" have other meanings in different contexts?

Primarily, "Can of Corn" maintains its meaning of an easy task, though the context can shift based on the situation. In baseball, for instance, it specifically refers to an easy catch.

  • Q: Is "Can of Corn" used outside of the United States?

While the idiom has its roots in American English and is most commonly used in the US, it can be understood and used in other English-speaking countries, though it might not be as recognized.

  • Q: What are some synonyms for "Can of Corn"?

Some synonyms include "a piece of cake", "a walk in the park", "easy as pie", and "a breeze". These all indicate tasks that can be accomplished easily.

  • Q: How has the use of "Can of Corn" evolved over time?

Originally a baseball term, "Can of Corn" has transcended its sports origins and entered everyday language, even finding a place in literature and pop culture.

  • Q: Are there any common misconceptions about the idiom "Can of Corn"?

One common misconception is that "Can of Corn" refers to something being as common or as simple as a can of corn, but its true origin lies in baseball and old grocery store practices.

  • Q: Can "Can of Corn" be used to describe people?

The idiom is generally used to describe tasks rather than people. However, in a metaphorical sense, it could be used to describe a person who is easy to deal with or understand.


Final Thoughts About "Can of Corn"

The idiom "Can of Corn" serves as a reminder of how language evolves with culture. Its journey from the baseball field to everyday language and pop culture underscores the dynamic nature of idioms. In the grand tapestry of language, idioms like "Can of Corn" add color, depth, and a certain cultural charm. 

  • "Can of Corn" signifies an easy or straightforward task.
  • The idiom has its roots in baseball and American grocery stores.
  • It is often used in diverse contexts, including popular culture.

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