\ 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6 : a contestant whose name is withdrawn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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The very human desire to share our passions is still there, but the opportunity to scratch the social itch that most of us feel is not. Vphamtcc, Rolling Stone, 5 Jan. 2022 At the urging of one of his older brothers, also lacrosse standouts at Maryland, Bernhardt decided to scratch his football itch once again for his fifth and final year of athletic eligibility. Brad Emons, Detroit Free Press, 7 Nov. 2021 While away from his band mates, Zeiler tried to scratch the itch, to no avail. Ben Flanagan |, al, 5 Nov. 2021 Readers might dismiss this as a minor symptom, but the itch can be unbearable, and there are many reports of people doing terrible damage to themselves by trying to scratch the itch. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 22 Oct. 2021 Who are the sword and sorcery protagonists that scratch your itch for devilry and adventure? Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2021 But that’s not the point, of course; this is a car designed for those with the financial means to scratch any automotive itch. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 13 Aug. 2021 With free time on his hands, Pederson decided to scratch his football itch this weekend with a reunion in Lake Forest with Bears coach Matt Nagy. Dan Wiederer,, 7 Aug. 2021 Dowling couldn’t tell you where to scratch an itch, let alone do it himself. Eileen Kelley,, 25 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This bakery makes cheesecakes, cakes, brownies and cookies from scratch. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2022 Parking can be a challenge and there are often lines on the weekends, but the lines move fast and chef Giuseppe Ciuffa’s made-from-scratch food comes out quickly. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Jan. 2022 Plus, stir fries are by definition made fresh from scratch, meant to be eaten steaming hot off the stove. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 6 Jan. 2022 Now, distributors are so skittish about the absence of older audiences that many specialty films are shoved into hundreds of theaters right off the bat, expected to draw huge crowds from scratch. New York Times, 5 Jan. 2022 The inmates, in classes of about eight, start from scratch with business ideas, as Mitchell talks them through their formation for two hours, twice a week, for three months. John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Jan. 2022 In many cases, people are left structuring each day from scratch, becoming responsible for a host of decisions that were once codified into the rhythms of the workplace. Meghan O’gieblyn, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 For an afternoon treat, Hilton Head Social Bakery serves sandwiches, quiches, cookies and pastries made from scratch daily. Sucheta Rawal, Travel + Leisure, 1 Jan. 2022 In lieu of McDonald’s cookies, my friend’s sister made chocolate-chip cookies from scratch. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 1 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 It’s built with a 6-foot long power cord, as well as a non-scratch base. Zoe Malin, NBC News, 26 Mar. 2021

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


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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Time Traveler for scratch

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

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scratch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for scratch



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



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



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

: having no handicap
: put together quickly and without enough planning or thought


\ 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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