eke out


1 [eek]
verb (used with object), eked, eking.
to increase; enlarge; lengthen.
Verb phrases
eke out,
to make (a living) or support (existence) laboriously: They managed to eke out a living by farming a small piece of land.
to supplement; add to; stretch: to eke out an income with odd jobs.

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

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
eke1 (iːk)
archaic (tr) to increase, enlarge, or lengthen
[Old English eacan; related to Old Norse auka to increase, Latin augēre to increase]

eke2 (iːk)
sentence connector
archaic also; moreover
[Old English eac; related to Old Norse, Gothic auk also, Old High German ouh, Latin autem but, aut or]

eke out
1.  to make (a supply) last, esp by frugal use: they eked out what little food was left
2.  to support (existence) with difficulty and effort
3.  to add to (something insufficient), esp with effort: to eke out an income with evening work

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, north England and E. Midlands var. of echen from O.E. ecan, eacan, eacian "addition, reinforcement," probably from eaca "an increase," from P.Gmc. *aukan (cf. O.N. auka, O.Fris. aka, Goth. 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 miserable existence. Obsolete eke "also" (O.E. eac, Ger. auch) is probably related. Related: Eked; eking
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

eke out

  1. Supplement, make last, as in The survivors eked out their food and water until they were rescued. [Late 1500s]

  2. Get with great difficulty or effort, as in The soil was terrible but they managed to eke out a living by rotating crops. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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