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[eek] /ik/
verb (used with object), eked, eking.
to increase; enlarge; lengthen.
Verb phrases
eke out,
  1. to make (a living) or support (existence) laboriously:
    They managed to eke out a living by farming a small piece of land.
  2. to supplement; add to; stretch:
    to eke out an income with odd jobs.
Origin of eke1
before 1000; Middle English eken, Old English ēac(i)an (intransitive), derivative of ēaca (noun) increase; Middle English echen, Old English ēcan, variant of īecan (transitive) < West Germanic *aukjan; both akin to Old Norse auka, Gothic aukan, Latin augēre, Greek auxánein to increase, amplify


[eek] /ik/
adverb, Archaic.
before 900; Middle English eek, Old English ēc, ēac; cognate with German auch, Old Norse, Gothic auk Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for eke
  • Families eke out a living by growing what food they can and by fishing.
  • Most work on other people's cattle ranches or eke out a meager existence in shantytowns and resettlement camps.
  • The changes were made to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and eke every last mile from the battery.
  • Fewer still reached enough papers for the creators to eke out a living.
  • No one who tries to eke out a living from this land is untouched.
  • They used to grow millet in the lap of these gentle hills, and mulberry trees to eke out silkworms.
  • Still today, unable to return to their place of birth, they eke out an existence in refugee settlements.
  • Many fellows would previously eke out a living as poets or other skint professionals.
  • Families eke out a living here by growing what food they can and by fishing.
  • Humbled, they eke out their last days without protest.
British Dictionary definitions for eke


(transitive) (archaic) to increase, enlarge, or lengthen
Word Origin
Old English eacan; related to Old Norse auka to increase, Latin augēre to increase


sentence connector
(archaic) also; moreover
Word Origin
Old English eac; related to Old Norse, Gothic auk also, Old High German ouh, Latin autem but, aut or
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for eke

c.1200, eken "to increase, lengthen," north England and E. Midlands variant of echen from Old English ecan, eacan, eacian "to increase," probably from eaca "an increase," from Proto-Germanic *aukan (cf. Old Norse auka, Old Frisian aka, Old High German ouhhon, Gothic aukan), from PIE *aug- "to increase" (see augment).

Now mainly in phrase to eke out (1590s). It means "to make something go further or last longer;" you can eke out your income by taking a second job, but you can't eke out your existence. Related: Eked; eking.


"also" (obsolete), from Old English eac, cognate with Old Saxon, Old Dutch ok, Old Norse and Gothic auk, Old Frisian ak, Old High German ouh, German auch "also;" probably related to eke (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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