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I understand that "eke" means "survive". Where does it come from?

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"eke out a living" means survive, barely. the 'eke' is the part that makes it a close run thing. – Oldcat Jan 7 '14 at 19:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The NOAD says of the origin:

Old English ēacian, ēcan (in the sense [increase]), of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse auka.

Also, it means more like “use sparingly” or carefully, rather than “survive”.

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