Make ends meet and make both ends meet

Make ends meet and make both ends meet are idioms that date back to the mid-1600s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of make ends meet and make both ends meet, where these terms may have come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Make ends meet and make both ends meet are phrases that mean to acquire the minimum amount of money necessary to live on. The origins of these phrases, known as early as the 1600s, is murky. One theory points to the idea of having enough material to make a belt that wraps all the way around one’s waist, thereby making one’s ends meet. Another theory is that the terms came from the process of accounting, where the end of one’s income column must be equal to one’s expenditure column in order to be solvent. Related phrases are makes ends meet or makes both ends meet, made ends meet or made both ends meet, making ends meet or making both ends meet.


With high unemployment and many families struggling to make ends meet, many parents are unable to provide the basic school supplies for their children. (The Valencia News-Bulletin)

Instead, these taxes target working families struggling to make ends meet and small businesses that provide jobs for people living paycheck to paycheck. (The San Diego Union Tribune)

Her father has been working as a van driver in a school and making both ends meet for her family, which includes an elder sister and grandmother. (The Hindu)

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