from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To supplement with great effort. Used with out: eked out an income by working two jobs.
  • transitive v. To get with great effort or strain. Used with out: eke a bare existence from farming in an arid area.
  • transitive v. To make (a supply) last by practicing strict economy. Used with out.
  • adv. Archaic Also.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Also.
  • v. To increase; to add to, augment, lengthen.
  • n. An addition.
  • n. A very small addition to the bottom of a beehive, often merely of a few bands of straw, on which the hive is raised temporarily.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. In addition; also; likewise.
  • n. An addition.
  • transitive v. To increase; to add to; to augment; -- now commonly used with out, the notion conveyed being to add to, or piece out by a laborious, inferior, or scanty addition.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To increase; enlarge; lengthen; protract; prolong.
  • To add to; supply what is lacking to; increase, extend, or make barely sufficient by addition: usually followed by out: as, to eke out a piece of cloth; to eke out a performance.
  • Also; likewise; in addition.
  • n. Something added to something else.
  • n. Same as eking, 2.
  • n. An added structure.
  • n. In agriculture, an oblong stack.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English eken, to increase, from Old English ēcan; see aug- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old English ēac, ēc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English eken ("to increase"), from Old English īecan ("to increase"), from West Germanic aukjana, from Proto-Germanic *aukanan (“increase”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ewg- (“to increase”). Akin to Danish øge, Icelandic auka, Swedish öka and Latin augeō, Old English ēac ("also").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English eke, eake ("an addition"), from Old English ēaca ("an addition"). Akin to Old Norse auki ("an addition").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English eek ("also"), from Old English ēac, ēc ("also"), from Proto-Germanic *auk. Akin to West Frisian ek, Dutch ook ("also"), German auch ("also"), Swedish ock ("also").



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  • "eke" in Hungarian means: yoke

    August 1, 2012

  • Come then my brethren, and be glad,

    And eke rejoice with me;

    Lawn sleeves and rochets shall go down,

    And hey! then up go we!

    - Francis Quarles (1592-1644), The Shepherd's Oracles. Eclogue xi, Song of Anarchus, i.

    September 19, 2009

  • Thanks VO.

    April 18, 2008

  • Eek.

    April 18, 2008

  • Plain 'eke':

    1. trans. To increase, add to, lengthen. Also absol. 'neither to eke nor to pair' (Sc.): neither to add to nor take from. Proverb, 'every little ekes'. arch. or dial.

    b. intr. To increase, grow. Obs.

    2. To add. Const. til, to. Also absol. Obs.

    Also 'eke up': 'to supply, repair (a loss). Obs.'

    April 18, 2008

  • Is there a difference between eke and eke out?

    April 18, 2008

  • Can't argue with that. (Don't change one word of your poem, yarb, I'm just stuck in the olden days before male salmon!)

    April 18, 2008

  • OED, 2nd Ed.:

    '3. to eke out: a. to supplement, supply the deficiencies of anything (const. with); esp. to make (resources, materials, articles of consumption, etc.) last the required time by additions, by partial use of a substitute, or by economy.

    'b. To prolong (a speech or composition, an action) by expedients devised for that purpose; to contrive to fill up (a certain amount of space in writing, etc.).

    'c. To contrive to make (a livelihood), or to support (existence) by various makeshifts.'

    Interestingly enough, eke also turns out to be a dialect term (northern England) for a male salmon; cited once, 1887.

    April 18, 2008

  • Is that really misuse? I reckon it's so widespread a usage as to constitute a shift in meaning. What does OED2 say?

    I'm just annoyed because I (mis)used it recently in a poem.

    April 18, 2008

  • Idiom: "eke out a living", frequently misused to mean making a pretty poor living overall doing something that's badly paid, when in fact it refers to the making up of deficiencies. Merriam-Webster's example: "He eked out his income by getting a second job."

    April 18, 2008