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make ends meet

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To earn enough income to provide for basic needs: “The workers complained that on their present wages they could hardly make ends meet, let alone enjoy any luxuries.”

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Example sentences from the Web for make ends meet

Idioms and Phrases with make ends meet

make ends meet

Manage so that one's financial means are enough for one's needs, as in On that salary Enid had trouble making ends meet. This expression originated as make both ends meet, a translation from the French joindre les deux bouts (by John Clarke, 1639). The ends, it is assumed, allude to the sum total of income and expenditures. However, naval surgeon and novelist Tobias Smollett had it as “make the two ends of the year meet” (Roderick Random, 1748), thought to go back to the common practice of splicing rope ends together in order to cut shipboard expenses.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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