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6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn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

Antibiotics had no effect; the doctors scratched their heads. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "Claire Foy on Becoming a Mother and Trading Her Crown for a Dragon Tattoo," 10 Oct. 2018 In public statements, the ADL scratched its collective head. Abraham Riesman, Daily Intelligencer, "Can the young activists of IfNotNow change the conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, or will their contradictions hold them back?," 12 July 2018 The Cardinals scratched out 21 points in last year’s showdown against Clemson, which featured Lamar Jackson in a Saturday night home game. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "Here's how Louisville football could actually beat Clemson in 2018," 10 July 2018 The Owls scratched out three runs in the sixth inning to even things, then knocked off the Explorers, 5-4, in eight innings in a PIAA Class 6A semifinal at Neumann University’s Bruder Field. Rick O'brien, Philly.com, "Bensalem rallies to stun La Salle in state baseball semifinal," 12 June 2018 That old yellow rope is splintering in my hands, alders scratching my arms, and a crowd of mosquitoes showed up to help. Seth Kantner, Anchorage Daily News, "We’re failing in our relationship with nature – and with each other," 9 June 2018 Lynn remembers feeling frozen, until her service dog got her attention by scratching her face. Ginny Graves, Health.com, "I Suffered a Debilitating Head Injury in the Boston Marathon Bombing. One Year Later, I Completed the Race," 13 Apr. 2018 This followed the death of a 6-year-old boy in January of last year, who died from rabies from a sick bat that his dad discovered, which reportedly scratched or bit the boy. Tara C. Smith, SELF, "What Happens When You Get Rabies? An Epidemiologist Explains," 24 Jan. 2019 Self-harm is one red flag for suicide risk, although not every child who cuts or scratches or harms him or herself is at risk of suicide. NBC News, "More kids, especially girls, are attempting suicide. It's not clear why.," 16 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Introduce your mom to the wonderful world of bullet journaling with her own planner made from scratch. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "11 DIY Mother's Day Gifts That Will Make Her Feel All *Sparkly* Inside," 4 Apr. 2019 Here are four more examples: McDonald's During the 1984 Olympics, the fast food giant ran a promotional campaign featuring scratch-off tickets. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Build-a-Bear blunder: Other company promotions that epically failed," 13 July 2018 Ypsilanti's Pollard Banknote instant ticket factory might not make the most scratch-offs in the world. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Is Ypsilanti home to the luckiest lottery ticket plant in the world?," 6 July 2018 While the accomplice and clerk were in the back of the store, the woman was in the front, dancing and periodically grabbing scratch-offs from behind the counter. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, ""Dancing thief" caught on camera stealing scratch-offs while busting a move," 21 June 2018 Alexander’s Tavern in Fells Point will serve their regular menu with a free beer and a scratch-off for all dads. Anna Muckerman, baltimoresun.com, "Father's Day dining specials on the menu in the Baltimore area," 11 June 2018 The Garland man bought a lottery scratch-off ticket — the Weekly Grand — and won the top prize of $1,000 a week for the next 20 years. Anna M. Tinsley, star-telegram, "This North Texan bought a $2 scratch-off lottery ticket and walked away with $800K," 4 June 2018 It’ss in the hands of the state legislature, which has shown little stomach for legalizing much of anything gambling-related short of horse racing and scratch-off lottery tickets. Jim Lefko, San Antonio Express-News, "Writers’ roundtable: E-N sportswriters explain Spurs roster moves they would make," 18 May 2018 The grand opening celebration is Saturday April 14 with scratch-off gift cards given to the first 200 customers and other special events happening throughout the day. Allison Carey, cleveland.com, "Macy's brings off-price Backstage concept to Great Lakes Mall in Mentor (photos)," 13 Apr. 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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Last Updated

16 Apr 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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