scratch

verb
\ 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

scratch

noun

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6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn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

scratch

adjective

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

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Other Words from scratch

Verb

scratcher noun

Synonyms for scratch

Synonyms: Verb

abrade, graze, scrape, scuff

Synonyms: Noun

creak, grind, jar, rasp, scrape

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Did You Know?

Noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There is a long and storied history of the Phoenix Force and Dark Phoenix in the comics that this movie only just scratched the surface of. Sydney Bucksbaum, refinery29.com, "Dark Phoenix," 8 June 2019 The last time Wes McGriff was an assistant at Auburn, Daniel Thomas was just scratching the surface of his abilities. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al.com, "Wes McGriff ‘thoroughly impressed’ with how much Daniel Thomas has changed since 2016," 6 June 2019 Rocketman only scratches the surface of their dynamic—which, at times, is downright devastating. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Even Bryce Dallas Howard Couldn’t Handle Rocketman’s Most Heartbreaking Scene," 31 May 2019 In the grander scheme of Johnson Artur’s archive however, the show barely scratches the surface. Vogue, "Photographer Liz Johnson Artur Explores the Ties That Bind the African Diaspora," 17 May 2019 Photo: peter powell/epa-efe/rex/shutterstock Mourinho wasn’t even able to count on his team’s typical defensive solidity to scratch out results. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Mourinho Fired From Manchester United as Premier League Heavyweights Struggle," 18 Dec. 2018 The conditions definitely favored the pitchers over the four games, but the Cubs scratched out enough runs to sweep. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers look to put runs on the board after Cubs pitchers dominated first two meetings," 10 June 2018 The Wolves scratched out a pair of insurance runs in the fourth and in the fifth without the help of the long ball. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Double trouble: Schultz sisters go on home-run tear to power Oswego East past Oswego," 20 Apr. 2018 All told, after scratching out bowl eligibility in Leipold’s third year, there are high expectations for Buffalo entering 2018. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "MAC challengers look to use spring practice in effort to unseat Toledo," 2 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fixing up the passenger seat ended up being a bit more involved, however, as the seat cover was no longer available and the dealership had to fashion it from scratch. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "A Mazda Dealer Surprised a Loyal Customer by Refurbishing His First-Gen MX-5 Miata's Seats for Free," 11 May 2019 The Navy veteran, who is challenging Rep. Bob Gibbs (R., Ohio), says the party should focus on bolstering the Affordable Care Act, not starting from scratch with Medicare for All. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, "Some Democrats Want Medicare for All. Others Aren’t So Sure.," 4 Oct. 2018 It's made from scratch with fresh ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. Jennie Key, Cincinnati.com, "Lots of options: West Siders have eat-out options and more are coming," 13 July 2018 Within the pigment part, stylists create their own custom color from scratch with primary colors, as well as black, brown, and white. Devon Abelman, Allure, "How Instagram Sparked the Indie Hair-Color Brand Revolution," 27 June 2018 One of the secrets to the success here (and at all of Hoover’s eateries) is that virtually every element of every dish is made from scratch with the best ingredients. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "Incredible fried chicken in Indianapolis," 17 May 2018 Implementing a change two years in the future, on the other hand, means the company has time to start from scratch with its new line. Ariella Gintzler, Outside Online, "REI Announces New Sustainability Standards," 13 Apr. 2018 The league spent the past two years deconstructing what constitutes a reception, then rebuilding that rule from scratch with the input of several current and former coaches and players. Sam Farmer, latimes.com, "Price tag for Rams and Chargers' stadium nears $3 billion, prompting NFL rule change," 28 Mar. 2018 Everything here is made from scratch with ingredients imported from Sicily so the taste is as authentic as a trip to Palmero. Linda Bladholm, miamiherald, "Cakes and confections with an Italian spirit highlight this new Miami Beach bakery | Miami Herald," 22 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The sessions are aimed at ages 3-10, but what adult doesn’t love scratch art? (610-388-8382, brandywine.org) Shore Baby Parades (Stone Harbor, July 9; Wildwood, Aug. 1; Cape May, Aug. 3; Ocean City, Aug. 9). Lauren Mccutcheon, Philly.com, "Where to take your kids in Philadelphia this summer," 6 June 2018 In spring 2016, Kornmeyer ran the Scratch pop-up restaurant in Irvington in hopes of finding a permanent location. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "These are all the Indianapolis restaurant closings," 13 July 2017 The TechMatte screen protectors were extremely scratch-resilient compared to others, including protectors that cost more than $40. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "Reality Check: What Does, and Doesn’t, Protect Your Smartphone," 24 May 2017 Guinness isn't owned by megabrewer AB InBev, but it is run by multi-national beverage company Diageo (also the world's largest whiskey producer), so scratch independence. Matt Allyn, Popular Mechanics, "Guinness Is Opening an American Brewery and This Is Why it Matters," 31 Jan. 2017 The TechMatte screen protectors were extremely scratch-resilient compared to others, including protectors that cost more than $40. Brian X. Chen, The Seattle Times, "What does, and doesn’t, protect your smartphone," 2 June 2017

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.

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First Known Use of scratch

Verb

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

Noun

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scratch

Verb

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

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Statistics for scratch

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scratch

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

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More Definitions for scratch

scratch

verb

English Language Learners Definition of scratch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to rub your skin with something sharp (such as your fingernails) especially in order to stop an itch
: to make a shallow and narrow cut in (your skin) with something sharp (such as fingernails, claws, etc.)
: to rub a surface or object with something sharp or rough in a way that produces a harsh sound

scratch

noun

English Language Learners Definition of scratch (Entry 2 of 3)

: a line or mark in the surface of something that is caused by something rough or sharp rubbing against it
: a shallow and narrow cut in the skin that is caused by something sharp
: the sound made when something sharp rubs against a surface or object

scratch

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of scratch (Entry 3 of 3)

of a golfer : having no handicap
chiefly British : put together quickly and without enough planning or thought

scratch

verb
\ 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.

scratch

noun

Kids Definition of scratch (Entry 2 of 2)

: a mark or injury made by scraping with something sharp

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More from Merriam-Webster on scratch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scratch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scratch

Spanish Central: Translation of scratch

Nglish: Translation of scratch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scratch for Arabic Speakers

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