squeak by


a short, sharp, shrill cry; a sharp, high-pitched sound.
Informal. opportunity; chance: their last squeak to correct the manuscript.
an escape from defeat, danger, death, or destruction (usually qualified by narrow or close ).
verb (used without object)
to utter or emit a squeak or squeaky sound.
Slang. to confess or turn informer; squeal.
verb (used with object)
to utter or sound with a squeak or squeaks.
Verb phrases
squeak by/through, to succeed, survive, pass, win, etc., by a very narrow margin: They can barely squeak by on their income. The team managed to squeak through.

1350–1400; Middle English squeken, perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Swedish skväka to croak

squeakingly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
squeak (skwiːk)
1.  a short shrill cry or high-pitched sound
2.  informal an escape (esp in the phrases narrow squeak, near squeak)
3.  to make or cause to make a squeak
4.  (intr; usually foll by through or by) to pass with only a narrow margin: to squeak through an examination
5.  informal (intr) to confess information about oneself or another
6.  (tr) to utter with a squeak
[C17: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish skväka to croak]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., probably of imitative origin, similar to Middle Swedish skväka "to squeak, croak." The noun is from 1660s; sense of "narrow escape" is from 1822. Squeaky clean in fig. sense is from 1972, probably from advertisements for dishwashing liquid.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

squeak by

Also, squeak through. Manage barely to pass, win, survive, or the like, as in They are just squeaking by on their income, or He squeaked through the driver's test. This idiom transfers squeak in the sense of "barely emit a sound" to "narrowly manage something." [First half of 1900s] Also see squeeze through.

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