make ends meet

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Unknown. Perhaps originally referred to the ends of rope meeting, signifying continuity and therefore security and stability. Perhaps shifting later to refer to the attempt at making money last from one pay period to the next (i.e. the ends), thereby leaving no gap or break in the availability of funds


  • (file)


make ends meet

  1. (idiomatic) To have enough money to cover expenses; to get by financially; to get through the pay period (sufficient to meet the next payday).
    • 1661, Thomas Fuller, The History of the Worthies of England:
      (entry on Archbishop Edmund Grindall) Worldly wealth he cared not for, desiring only to make both ends meet; and as for that little that lapped over he gave it to pious uses.
    • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random in The Miscellaneous works of Tobias Smollett, p. 18:
      ... a schoolmaster, whose income being small, he was fain to keep a glass of good liquor for the entertainment of passengers, by which he made shift to make the two ends of the year meet.
    • 1996, Chris Peters, Sudan: A Nation in the Balance, p. 42:
      Although most of the poor and displaced in Khartoum struggle to make ends meet, a very small number not only find work, but form small co-operatives.
    • 2007, Peter Geoffrey Hall, London Voices, London Lives, p. 269:
      Very many Londoners reported to us that they were struggling to make ends meet; that it was a constant battle to keep their heads above water, or that they had only just got into the position of being able to breathe freely.
    • 2009 Feb. 27, "Avarice and Audacity," The Guardian (UK):
      Barclays, which until now has made ends meet with costly loans from the Middle East rather than take public money, may soon join the queue for the emergency medicine too.



  • “"Making ends meet: Etymology of phrase"”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], accessed 15 February 2009, archived from the original on 23 February 2009