Writing for Business

Sep 13 2012   1:55PM GMT

Eek out vs. eke out

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Data center managers try to maximize energy efficiency to ______ more life from older facilities.
a. eek out
b. eke out

Answer: b.

Another day, another eggcorn.

To eke something out is to barely manage to do something — as in eke out a living by taking a second job — or to extend something, as you might add more vegetables to a soup to serve an unexpected guest.

Eek is a common way to represent a shriek.

A quick Google returns 445,000 results for “eek out” and 1,650,000 for “eke out.” So a pretty significant proportion. I hate to always pick on sports writers but much of the first page of results is sports-related:

From NBCSports.com: Yankees, Orioles eek out one-run wins to preserve AL East tie

From iSportsWeb.com: Philadelphia Eagles eek out win in Cleveland

From SBNation.com: Barcelona Vs. Valencia: Blaugrana Eek Out Tough Win – SB Nation

From YardBarker.com\nfl: Well, it’s a ‘W’: Eagles eek out ugly 17-16 win over Browns

From SteelCurtainRising.com: Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Eek Out Preseason Win vs. Colts

So. “Eek out” is not an actual expression. But if it were, I think it would be similar to “freak out,” only with screaming — which is probably not something these teams want to have associated with them. Sports writers take note!

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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