Where might this idiom have possibly come from? Usually I can come up with a "philosophy" for idioms, though they may be completely wrong, but reasonable and mnemonic. But for this one I have just this, which may seem to be far from likely, or reasonable at least:
If the person has a monthly wage, which is paid at the end of each month, and it is enough to make a minimum level of living till the end of the next month, he is able to make ends meet!
What do you think?
I like Rafee's interpretation too. Makes sense. Likewise Emmett's expansion on that interpretation.
Never researched the etymology on that phrase, but I always assumed it had something to do with making a belt, rope, or chain go all the way around something it needed to go around. In that interpretation, if the ends didn't meet, it would be a failed device or attempt. Now I have to wonder.
Not sure how authoritative this source is, but for yet another interpretation, see: http://mmdelrosario.hubpages.com/hub/gird-up-your-loins-and-other-idioms
That was really interesting to learn about "make ends meet" on the above-mentioned site.
Still there is a question I would like to raise with regard to "make ends meet". While having English classes, we learnt that "make ends meet" is synonymous with "keep body and soul together, live from head to mouth". I wonder how the latter were created, especially "live from head to mouth".
I have never heard the phrase, "live from head to mouth." A quick search on Google indicates that it is not a common phrase at all.
You may have misunderstood a very common idiom which is,"live from hand to mouth." It is when someone uses all the money he may receive from his job to feed himself and his family with none left over. I imagine the origin of this is to say that whatever you earn with your hands, or whatever you receive into your hands will be immediately used for food to put into your mouth.