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See also: pie-in-the-sky




Labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill who composed the song “The Preacher and the Slave” (1911), from which the phrase pie in the sky originates

The phrase is originally from the song “The Preacher and the Slave” (1911) by Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill (1879–1915), which he wrote as a parody of the Salvation Army hymnIn the Sweet By-and-By” (published 1868). The song criticizes the Salvation Army for focusing on people’s salvation rather than on their material needs:[1]

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.



pie in the sky (uncountable)

  1. A fanciful notion; an unrealistic or ludicrous concept; the illusory promise of a desired outcome that is unlikely to happen.


Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Brendan Koerner (15 January 2003), “Where does the phrase ‘pie in the sky’ come from?”, in Slate[1], archived from the original on 2 December 2016; “pie in the sky” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2017, retrieved 21 July 2017.

Further readingEdit