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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Eke out

Episode 220110 / 10 Jan 2022

Summary

When you need to get just enough of something to survive, what are you doing? We have the perfect phrase to describe making the most of what you’ve got left.

Transcript

Jiaying
Welcome to The English We Speak. I’m Jiaying.

Neil
….and hello, I’m Neil. Jiaying, there’s a bit of problem.

Jiaying
Oh no, what’s wrong? 

Neil
We’ve almost run out of teabags – there’s just one left! What are we going to do?

Jiaying
Don’t panic, Neil. We’re just going to have to eke out the last one and share the teabag.

Neil
‘Eat out’?

Jiaying
Eke! 

Neil
Are you OK? Have you seen a mouse? 

Jiaying
No, Neil. ‘Eke’ – to ‘eke out’ means to make the supply of something last a bit longer, by using it carefully. It’s what you do when you only have a small quantity of something, and you want it to last as long as possible.

Neil
Like our last teabag. I’m not sure if eking out this last teabag will make the tea taste very good.

Jiaying
Well, go and find out while we eke out some examples…

Examples
Because of the storm, we had to eke out food supplies before we could get to the shops again.

Our crops have failed this year so we can hardly eke out a living.

I’ve lost my job, so I need to eke out what savings I have to survive.

Jiaying
This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English and we’re hearing about the phrasal verb ‘to eke out’ which means to make the limited supply of something last a bit longer, by using it carefully. So, Neil, how is the tea?

Neil
Like dishwater.

Jiaying
Oh dear, I think you need to go to the shop and buy some more.

Neil
Do I have to? Couldn’t we just eke out this script for a little longer?

Jiaying
Sure. Bye.

Neil
Bye.

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