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By Judy Vorfeld

The ori­gin of this inter­jec­tion prob­a­bly lies in car­toon world, when the hero­ine jumped up on a chair and shrieked, “Eek! A mouse!” These days it’s still an infor­mal, usu­ally
humor­ous expres­sion of anx­i­ety. Think of it as a “lite,” high-pitched shriek.

Example: Terri looked up from her key­board and spot­ted a spi­der perched on top of her moniter. She jumped up and said, “Eek! A spi­der!” And then there’s Eek! It’s Eczema! Which is also alliteration.

“Eke,” on the other hand, is a much older word. It’s gen­er­ally used with the word “out, and usu­ally tied in with doing these things with great dif­fi­culty. It is also usu­ally used with the word “out.” “Eke” does not mean “endure.”

Examples: The hus­band and wife worked hard, but barely eked out a living…Arriving in Bermuda, Jonathan found he only had four pills for a nine-day stay. He decided to eke them out.

How about “eek” as an acronym? This is a sweet site:

… And then there’s EEK! Environmental Education for Kids nicely pre­sented by the State of Wisconsin.


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