Eek vs. eke

  • To eke is (1) to manage with difficulty (to make a livelihood), and (2) to make something last by practicing strict economy. The word is usually embedded in the phrasal verb eke out; for example, one might eke out a living by selling cookies and picking up change off the street. Eek is a noise one might make upon seeing a spider—that is, it’s a (sometimes humorous or sarcastic) interjection expressing fear, shock, or surprise.


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    Because spell check doesn’t catch eek, it is often used in place of eke in the phrase eke out—for example:


    If those guys have off nights, though, Miami will probably eek out another tough win on the road. [Mass Live]

    Even though the Humane Society was able to eek out a win at the ballot box for Prop B, it was not to stand. [Riverfront Times]

    And these writers spell it correctly:

    In recent years, engineers have continued to eke out additional mass margin on the rocket. [BBC]

    If you travel for work, you may be able to eke out a travel bargain by piggybacking a mini-vacation onto your out-of-town business trip. [Forbes]

    Too often, immigrant seniors eke out a living by driving taxis or taking jobs at gas stations and grocery stores. [Globe and Mail]


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