There have been some fanciful speculations that the expression to make both ends
meet derives from the practice of splicing rope together on old sailing ships to
save money. The phrase, however, seems to be merely a shortening of to make both
ends of the year meet, meaning the same – to live within one’s income. Tobias
Smollett first recorded the saying in his picturesque novel The Adventures of
Roderick Random (1748).