Make Ends Meet or Make Both Ends Meet – Idiom & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Like most kids who were raised in the nineties, I grew up poor, but my parents never used that word. In fact, they always found a way to ensure we had everything we needed, just not anything more.

My mother always said they rubbed two sticks together or went paycheck to paycheck or — leaning into the topic of this article — always managed to make ends meet. But I always wondered if it was “make ends meet” or “make ends meat.” Let’s take a closer look!

Is It Make Ends Meet or Make Ends Meat?

Make Ends Meet or Make Both Ends Meet Idiom Meaning

If you’re also wondering if it’s “make ends meet” or “make ends meat,” I’ve got some cool facts for you. So, the technically correct saying is “make ends meet,” which we use when talking about how we have to stretch a budget or manage to get to a finish point in life with just enough money to do so. You’re making two ends meet or earning just enough money to get you through the week, month, or year.

Make Both Ends Meet Idiom Meaning

When you need to “make ends meet,” it means you want to have enough money to cover your basic needs and expenses. It’s a phrase widely used around the world for when someone is struggling financially to make ends meet, and it suggests they’re barely managing to stay afloat.

Origin of the Phrase Make Ends Meet

One of the first recorded uses found today dates back to the early 1600s in Thomas Fuller’s writings for the Church of England when talking about Edmund Grindal, an English protestant leader, “…to put off his clothes and went to bed on the one hand, make both ends meet and lapped over on the other hand….”

Growing up, my grandmother would use the saying to refer to quilting and sewing. She was a seamstress and said that two pieces of fabric scraps needed to come together to finish a project, aka making two ends meet.

But I also know some people who think the idiomatic saying came from butchers and how, when making sausage links to hang in the shop, would have to make both ends meet. The saying just somehow muddled into “make ends meat,” as in the sausage meat. But there’s no concrete evidence of this, and when you think about it, meet is still the more correct form here.

Synonyms for Make Ends Meet

If you’re tired of using the same old phrase, here are a few synonyms you can try on for size.

  • Make it by
  • Make do
  • Get by
  • Scrimp by
  • Conserve money
  • Live paycheck to paycheck
  • Keep the wolf from the door

Using Make Ends Meet in a Sentence

Make Ends Meet or Make Both Ends Meet Idiom Meaning 1
  • I can’t believe I had to take on a second job to make ends meet this month.
  • Growing up, my parents struggled to make ends meet but always made sure we had everything we needed.
  • You need to make the ends meet with those quilt patches, or you won’t have enough to finish the project.
  • We’re barely making ends meet with just one income, so my husband got a job in the oil field.
  • I don’t know how we’ll make both ends meet if rent goes up again; this recession and inflation are crazy.
  • My grandparents had to work hard just to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

In the End

So, whether you’re talking about sewing, financial budgeting, or sausage links, you can use the phrase “make ends meet.” Hopefully, you have a better understanding of this idiomatic expression and can now use it in your everyday vocabulary!