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Eek vs. eke

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  • 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.

    Examples

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

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    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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