Easily Confused Words: Eek vs. Eke

Eek and eke are easily confused words. They are also homophones, which means they sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Eek (pronounced “ee-k”) has multiple meanings.

  • As an interjection, it’s an expression of fear, terror or surprise.
  • As a proper noun, it means a monetary unit in Estonia.

Eke (pronounced “ee-k”) is a verb. It means to make a low wages, and barely afford a decent living.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Edgar Efrem, nicknamed ee, let out an eek! when he realized he wasn’t going to make his rent payment on time. Trying to eke out a living and pay student loans on his current salary just wasn’t cutting it. He was already on a Ramen diet.


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