scratch

verb
\ ˈskrach \
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6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn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

Paint color affecting tone is what Billy Corgan critics are scratching their heads over. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "Can Guitar Paint Affect Your Tone?," 31 Dec. 2018 Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels, which can scratch). Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Silver and Prevent Tarnish," 20 Nov. 2018 Manuel Margot batted lead-off for the first time in more than a month after Travis Jankowski was scratched a couple hours before Sunday’s game due to tightness in his quad. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres notes: Margot back on top; Renfroe tumbles; Hedges returns," 24 June 2018 Yes, concrete can scratch and stain, but so can pretty much every other material, including granite and marble. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Concrete Countertops: Is the Home Trend All It's Cracked up to Be?," 12 Dec. 2018 And for those who need to scratch that fashion itch while looking at the pieces, there’s a MatchesFashion.com pop-up located on-site. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange Comes to New York City," 28 Sep. 2018 Some people will yawn; others will scratch their head or cover their face. Richie Hertzberg, National Geographic, "This Baby Elephant Might Be Feeling 'Awkward'," 7 June 2018 Recounting the accomplishments of the Bell-Jeff sports teams over the last two-plus decades only scratches the surface of what the athletes, coaches and teams have been able to enjoy for more than 70 years. Jeff Tully, latimes.com, "Tully Talk: Recalling fond memories of Bell-Jeff," 23 May 2018 Thor’s films have barely scratched the surface of his lore. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Boundless Potential of Thor," 6 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both varieties of our Cauliflower Pizza Crust are vegan* and made with real, simple ingredients and offer incredible convenience – none of the prep work or cleanup that comes with making a cauliflower crust from scratch. Good Housekeeping, "Introducing NEW Green Giant™ Cauliflower Pizza Crust," 11 Dec. 2018 The recipes and photography are inspirational but not at all intimidating, and while there are new ideas and fun flavor combinations, absent are the 16-page treatises on how to construct a towering croquembouche or make croissants from scratch. Margaux Laskey, The Seattle Times, "Wrap up one of these sweet cookbooks for the home bakers in your life," 11 Dec. 2018 Unlike Android, Fuchsia is built entirely from scratch using a kernel called Zircon. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google bridges Android and iOS development with Flutter 1.0," 4 Dec. 2018 That puts Quest into a bit of a weird position, basically building a platform from scratch all over again. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "The $399 Oculus Quest is a premium VR headset with no wires—and no PC required," 26 Sep. 2018 Food made from scratch or smoked daily served in the old Rock Island Depot in the RiverFront District; 212 Southwest Water St., Suite B, Peoria, 309-981-5801, blueduckbarbecue.com. Katherine Rodeghier, chicagotribune.com, "Midwest eats: Spice up your meal by dining in one of these repurposed restaurants," 26 June 2018 Sepsis is not something different from our usual response to a scratch or an infection. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "George H.W. Bush has sepsis. Here's what that means.," 24 Apr. 2018 On top of the family-themed events and performances, kids can create their own colorful candles from scratch or make wax statues of their hands (after repeatedly plunging their fists into ice-cold water, then melted wax). Jon Gorey, BostonGlobe.com, "Rain or shine, Pioneer Valley in Western Mass. is great for a quick getaway," 16 Mar. 2018 Divorce means dividing that shared life in two and, sometimes, starting from scratch solo if your partner takes a chunk of the household necessities (see aforementioned toaster) can get pricey fast. Tanya Edwards, Glamour, "The Divorce Registry Isn't a Thing, but It Should Be," 26 Nov. 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

8 Jan 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

: put together quickly and without enough planning or thought

scratch

verb
\ ˈskrach \
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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