\ ˈskrach How to pronounce scratch (audio) \
scratched; scratching; scratches

Definition of scratch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to scrape or dig with the claws or nails
2 : to rub and tear or mark the surface of with something sharp or jagged
3a : to scrape or rub lightly (as to relieve itching)
b : to act on (a desire) used with itch scratch the itch to travel
4 : to scrape together : collect with difficulty or by effort scratch out a living
5 : to write or draw on a surface
6a : to cancel or erase by or as if by drawing a line through
b : to withdraw (an entry) from competition
8 : to scrape along a rough surface scratch a match

intransitive verb

1 : to use the claws or nails in digging, tearing, or wounding
2 : to scrape or rub oneself lightly (as to relieve itching)
3 : to gather money or make a living by hard work and especially through irregular means and sacrifice had to scratch and save for college
4a : to make a thin grating sound
b : to produce a rhythmic scratching sound by or as if by moving a phonograph record back and forth under a phonograph needle
5 : to withdraw from a contest or engagement
6 : to make a scratch in billiards or pool
scratch one's back
: to accommodate with a favor especially in expectation of like return
scratch one's head
: to be or become confused or perplexed
scratch the surface
: to make a modest effort or start



Definition of scratch (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a mark or injury produced by scratching also : a slight wound
3 : the sound made by scratching
4 : the starting line in a race
5a : a test of courage
b : satisfactory condition, level, or performance not up to scratch
6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn
7 : poultry feed (such as mixed grains) scattered on the litter or ground especially to induce birds to exercise

called also scratch feed

8a : a shot in billiards or pool that ends a player's turn specifically : a shot in pool in which the cue ball falls into the pocket
b : a shot that scores by chance : fluke
9 slang : money, funds
from scratch
1 : from a point at which nothing has been done ahead of time build a school system from scratch
2 : without using a prepared mixture of ingredients bake a cake from scratch



Definition of scratch (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : arranged or put together with little selection : haphazard a scratch team
2 : made as or used for a tentative effort
3 : made or done by chance and not as intended a scratch shot
4 : having no handicap or allowance a scratch golfer
5 : made from scratch : made with basic ingredients a scratch cake

Other Words from scratch


scratcher noun

Synonyms for scratch

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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The phrase up to scratch has its origins in the world of sports. In the 18th century, scratch began to be used for a line or mark that served as the starting point in a contest or competition. In order to begin or continue a fight, for example, a pugilist would "come up to the scratch," positioning himself at a line drawn across the prize ring. Up to the scratch was soon being used figuratively of anyone who was ready and able to do something. Over the years, the usage of the phrase has evolved somewhat, but something that is "up to scratch" can still be said to be ready and able in that it is capable of functioning or performing as expected.

Examples of scratch in a Sentence

Verb Will you scratch my back for me? Scratching the itch only makes it worse. The dog scratched its ear. You shouldn't scratch. It'll just make your itch worse. Thorns scratched our legs as we climbed through the briars. Careful, the cat will scratch. The dog was scratching at the door. Be careful not to scratch the table. Someone scratched the paint on my car. The little boy scratched lines in the dirt with a stick. Noun There's a scratch in the paint on the new car! The table is an antique but it doesn't have any dents or scratches. I got a scratch on my leg when I climbed the fence. The only sound in the room during the test was the scratch of pencils on paper. We don't have the scratch to buy a new car. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These will scratch the cooking surface of your machine. Samantha Hunter, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 Feb. 2022 While there is much discussion about multi-cloud, most of those conversations only scratch the surface, not getting past the basic definition of multi-cloud. Kit Colbert, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 Even now, with the introduction of vehicles like the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the spirit of the ute lives on, but that look may not exactly scratch the same itch as in years past. Jacob Kurowicki, Car and Driver, 18 Apr. 2022 The giant animals have been seen using their trunks to pick up and hold sticks in order to scratch an itch. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 14 Apr. 2022 These are big shoes to fill, but there are a few other series that might scratch a familiar itch. cleveland, 13 Apr. 2022 Seeking to scratch a creative itch, Hill started visiting her Auntie Laura, who made traditional Haudenosaunee baskets from black ash and sweetgrass. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 And the South Texas beans are bound to scratch the itch those nachos left. Emma Balter, Chron, 4 Apr. 2022 Start with Sanditon, and then check out these TV shows and movies that will totally scratch your Bridgerton itch. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 25 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Dua’s also a fantastic cook, according to Rina, who says her older sister has taken over Christmas dinner duties, where Dua makes her Yorkshire pudding and everything else from scratch. Jen Wang, Vogue, 10 May 2022 This is a unique chance to start from scratch and build your love life with intention and verve and vulnerability. Soak it up. Anna Pulley, Chicago Tribune, 10 May 2022 Even though her parents prioritized family meals and cooking from scratch, concerns about weight dominated Eunny Jang’s life. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 Born and raised in Jersey, lived in New York for 15 years and starting from scratch. Frank Digiacomo, Billboard, 6 May 2022 With this layout in mind, innovation starts by questioning an architecture from scratch, from first principles, and this is why philosophical thinking may become increasingly relevant to grasp a disruptive future. Esade Business & Law School, Forbes, 6 May 2022 However, Nguyen makes his tapioca pearls — and some other toppings, like grass jelly — from scratch. Kimi Robinson, The Arizona Republic, 5 May 2022 Solomon said, adding that most of the food is made from scratch by Five Iron's in-house chefs. Randy Tucker, The Enquirer, 4 May 2022 Toronto’s goal wasn’t to build out a new internet service provider from scratch, but rather to build on existing city assets to create a more affordable internet option for some residents. Camille Squires, Quartz, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Some feature the trending astronaut bubble window (such as the Lollimeow Pet Carrier Backpack, which any cat lover has doubtless seen on Instagram), while others are covered in sizable, strong breathable mesh panels made of anti-scratch material. Malia Griggs, SELF, 29 Apr. 2022 It's also constructed with anti-scratch glass on top, as well as sensors that prevent it from bumping into obstacles or accidentally tumbling down a flight of stairs. Amy Schulman,, 13 Dec. 2021 The platinum anti-fog and anti-scratch coating instantly puts these glasses at the head of the class. Chris Dorsey, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 Let the pan sit overnight, then gently scrub with a non-scratch sponge. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 Sep. 2021 Step 3: Dump out the solution, clean with a non-scratch sponge and liquid dish soap, and rinse the item with warm water. Samantha Hunter, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 July 2021 It's designed with an anti-scratch cover to protect it while gliding under large pieces of furniture, and also includes an infrared sensor that prevents it from bumping into objects and falling down a flight of stairs. Amy Schulman,, 21 June 2021 Plus, the pair was designed with an anti-scratch coating, allowing your purchase to last you well beyond the season ahead. Samantha Costantino, Forbes, 1 June 2021 These upgraded lenses include things like anti-scratch, anti-reflective and water-repellant coatings. Lindsay Boyers, Forbes, 11 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scratch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of scratch


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scratch


Middle English scracchen, probably blend of scratten to scratch and cracchen to scratch

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The first known use of scratch was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scratch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for scratch


\ ˈskrach How to pronounce scratch (audio) \
scratched; scratching

Kids Definition of scratch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to scrape or rub lightly scratch an itch He scratched his head.
2 : to injure by scraping with something sharp He scratched his thumb on a nail.
3 : to make a scraping noise The dog was scratching at the door.
4 : to erase by scraping I scratched out my mistake.



Kids Definition of scratch (Entry 2 of 2)

: a mark or injury made by scraping with something sharp

More from Merriam-Webster on scratch

Nglish: Translation of scratch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scratch for Arabic Speakers


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