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Calling for, requiring, or showing little or no effort. See Synonyms at easy.

ef′fort·less·ly adv.
ef′fort·less·ness n.



duck soup An easy task; a breeze, a cinch, a snap. This expression, originally and chiefly American slang, probably derived from the phrase sitting duck ‘an easy mark or target,’ literally a duck resting on the water and thus very likely to end up in duck soup. See also Sitting duck, VULNERABILITY.

hands down Easily, effortlessly; unconditionally, incontestably; beyond question, undoubtedly. The original expression was the horse racing phrase to win hands down, an allusion to the way a jockey, certain of victory, drops his hands, thus loosening his grip on the reins. The term dates from at least 1867.

lead-pipe cinch See CERTAINTY.

like water off a duck’s back Easily, harmlessly; to no effect, without making any impression.

I had taken to vice like a duck to water, but it ran off me like water from a duck’s back. (C. Day Lewis, Buried Day, 1960)

This self-evident expression dates from at least 1824.

no sweat No problem, no trouble or bother, no difficulty; a cinch, a piece of cake. Working up a sweat and working hard have long been synonymous. Use of this American slang expression dates from at least 1955. It has lost its former crude associations and is now used readily in most informal contexts.

No sweat, mate … We’re not looking for trouble. (R. Giles, File on Death, 1973)

a piece of cake Any task requiring little or no effort; a cinch, a snap, a breeze; a pleasant or enjoyable experience. This expression, in use since at least 1936, obviously refers to the simple, pleasurable experience of eating cake.

plain sailing Easy going, without obstruction or interruption; according to plan. In nautical terminology, plane sailing is the supposedly uncomplicated art of determining a ship’s position based on the assumption that the earth’s surface is a plane and not spherical.

Plane-sailing is so simple that it is colloquially used to express anything so easy that it is impossible to make a mistake. (William Henry Smyth, The Sailor’s Word-book, 1867)

Nautical use of this expression appeared in print by the late 17th century and shows plain used interchangeably with plane. Figuratively, as applied to any plan or course of action, plain sailing is the standard form.

So far all was plain sailing, as the saying is; but Mr. Till knew that his main difficulties were yet to come. (Francis E. Paget, Milford Mal-voisin, 1842)

Today clear sailing is heard as often as plain sailing.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.effortlessness - the quality of requiring little effort; "such effortlessness is achieved only after hours of practice"
ease, easiness, simpleness, simplicity - freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort; "he rose through the ranks with apparent ease"; "they put it into containers for ease of transportation"; "the very easiness of the deed held her back"
facility, readiness - a natural effortlessness; "they conversed with great facility"; "a happy readiness of conversation"--Jane Austen
smoothness - the quality of being free from errors or interruptions; "the five-speed manual gearbox is smoothness personified"
effortfulness - the quality of requiring deliberate effort


The ability to perform without apparent effort:


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