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6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn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

Saturday’s result: Staythirstymyamigo scratched out of the eighth race. Los Angeles Times, "Racing! What the CHRB rule book says," 15 Sep. 2019 Other libraries have scratched late fees for children, who often depend on adults to help return books, or offer amnesty days when borrowers can bring back late materials without sanction. Washington Post, "Phoenix to become most populous US city to drop library fees," 13 Sep. 2019 The council scratched the former site of the Pine Knot Motel at 6302 W. Coast Hwy. Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, "Land-use restrictions play into Newport Beach homeless shelter search," 8 Sep. 2019 Now, Santoro can scratch an Alabama game off the bucket list. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "New York principal’s letter to Nick Saban results in Alabama invite from coach himself," 30 Aug. 2019 If you're totally crushed out and nothing on the new Taylor Swift is scratching your itch in just the right way, give this one a spin instead. Courtney E. Smith, refinery29.com, "New Music To Know This Week: Summer Walker Strums Though The Pain & More," 23 Aug. 2019 The kinkajou bit the 37-year-old man’s foot and scratched his leg but didn't seriously injure him, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report obtained by Fox News. Fox News, "Kinkajou barges into Florida woman's apartment, attacks her boyfriend, officials say," 20 Aug. 2019 Other families members ran to assist the girl and drive the bobcat away, getting bitten and scratched in the process, Hart said. Aubrey Carpenter, azcentral, "Bobcat attacks 4-year-old girl and her family at Arizona campground," 29 July 2019 Democrats and Republicans alike scratched their heads at the former Marine aviator's explanation, but that didn't stop donors from pouring $2.5 million into her campaign coffers within 24 hours. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Yarmuth: Amy McGrath's early errors show a primary challenge 'might be helpful'," 9 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

From building buildings, adding turf fields, recruiting from scratch, scheduling games, all of those things were what I was excited about. Evan Dudley, al, "'Bragging rights on the line’: Blazers host South Alabama on Saturday," 17 Sep. 2019 If there are any flaws, scratches, rips or stains, be sure to fully disclose and post photos of the damage. Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "How to make a fast buck selling thrift store finds on Poshmark, ThredUp, The RealReal | Doreen’s Deals," 13 Sep. 2019 The rabies virus lives in in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, a scratch, or by a lick in an open wound, the eye or the mouth according to the Carroll County Health Department. Iris Katz, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Pet Wise: Rabies represents a continued threat in Carroll County, even in 2019," 13 Sep. 2019 The odd assault resulted in an 8-inch gash in the bull’s right horn along with several scratches. Chris Morris, Fortune, "A Man Attacked Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ Statue With a Banjo and Repairing It Won’t Be Cheap," 11 Sep. 2019 Creating scratch-resistant coatings, for example, could have any number of uses. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What the World Needs Now Is Superhard Carbon," 10 Sep. 2019 Center/guard Corey Levin, receiver Juwann Winfree and defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones were listed as healthy scratches. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Briefs: Foot injury sidelines cornerback Bryce Callahan," 9 Sep. 2019 In San Ignacio Lagoon, on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California, baby grey whales and their mothers actively seek contact with people for a head scratch or back rub. Johnny Simon, Quartz, "A year’s worth of surprising and poignant nature photos," 8 Sep. 2019 Along with granite, quartzite is one of the more heat- and scratch-resistant natural stones. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "How to Pick the Right Kitchen Countertop Material, According to Experts," 6 Sep. 2019

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

15 Oct 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

Comments on scratch

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