- to increase; enlarge; lengthen.
- eke out,
- to make (a living) or support (existence) laboriously: They managed to eke out a living by farming a small piece of land.
- to supplement; add to; stretch: to eke out an income with odd jobs.
Origin of eke1
- to make (a supply) last, esp by frugal usethey eked out what little food was left
- to support (existence) with difficulty and effort
- to add to (something insufficient), esp with effortto eke out an income with evening work
- (tr) archaic to increase, enlarge, or lengthen
- archaic also; moreover
Word Origin and History for eke out
"also" (obsolete), from Old English eac, cognate with Old Saxon, Old Dutch ok, Old Norse and Gothic auk, Old Frisian ak, Old High German ouh, German auch "also;" probably related to eke (v.).
c.1200, eken "to increase, lengthen," north England and E. Midlands variant of echen from Old English ecan, eacan, eacian "to increase," probably from eaca "an increase," from Proto-Germanic *aukan (cf. Old Norse auka, Old Frisian aka, Old High German ouhhon, Gothic aukan), from PIE *aug- "to increase" (see augment).
Now mainly in phrase to eke out (1590s). It means "to make something go further or last longer;" you can eke out your income by taking a second job, but you can't eke out your existence. Related: Eked; eking.
Idioms and Phrases with eke out
Supplement, make last, as in The survivors eked out their food and water until they were rescued. [Late 1500s]
Get with great difficulty or effort, as in The soil was terrible but they managed to eke out a living by rotating crops. [Early 1800s]