\ ˈskra-chē How to pronounce scratchy (audio) \
scratchier; scratchiest

Definition of scratchy

1 : marked or made with scratches scratchy drawing scratchy handwriting
2 : likely to scratch : prickly scratchy undergrowth
3 : making a scratching noise
4 : uneven in quality : ragged
5 : causing tingling or itching : irritating scratchy wool
6 : somewhat inflamed and sore a scratchy throat

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from scratchy

scratchily \ ˈskra-​chə-​lē How to pronounce scratchily (audio) \ adverb
scratchiness \ ˈskra-​chē-​nəs How to pronounce scratchiness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for scratchy


brambly, prickly, thistly, thorny

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of scratchy in a Sentence

listening to scratchy old records The costume is made from scratchy material. He is sick with a scratchy throat.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

This is called a corneal abrasion, and symptoms include a gritty, scratchy feeling, pain, redness, tearing, sensitivity to light, a headache, and feeling like something’s in your eye, according to the Mayo Clinic. Korin Miller, SELF, "8 Possible Reasons Your Contacts Feel So Scratchy," 8 Aug. 2018 And in my experience, American cotton pads can feel scratchy and often fall apart easily. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Korean Cotton Pads Are the Secret to a Proper K-Beauty Skin Routine," 4 Oct. 2018 Our day hike to Gallison Lake took us off trail through scratchy brush and up the side of a waterfall. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Yosemite backpacking with kids is worth a few tears," 26 Apr. 2018 Because of all the rivers and lakes, wide swaths of the Selous are impenetrable — picture green, overgrown, scratchy and thorny bush. Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, "A Family Adventure in the Wild Heart of Tanzania," 2 Apr. 2018 Whatever the cause, blepharitis can leave you with scratchy eyes, swollen eyelids, flaky eyelid skin, burning, stinging, and feeling like something is stuck your eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s Why Your Eyes Are Burning When You Put In Your Contacts," 10 Oct. 2018 The poet eagerly volunteers to recite some of its lines, his scratchy baritone dramatically quiet at times and booming at others. John Mcmurtrie, San Francisco Chronicle, "Ferlinghetti speaks out at 99, his voice as vital as ever," 21 Mar. 2018 More severely allergic people can develop a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and in very rare cases, go into anaphylactic shock. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, "What's the Best Form of Birth Control for You?," 31 Oct. 2017 In the case of cochlear implants, patients initially experience the human voice as high-pitched and scratchy (think Mickey Mouse) but adapt over time. Justin Chen, STAT, "Pulses of light restored hearing in gerbils. Could that lead to higher-tech cochlear implants?," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scratchy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of scratchy

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scratchy

Statistics for scratchy

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scratchy

The first known use of scratchy was in 1827

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scratchy



English Language Learners Definition of scratchy

: having a rough sound : having a sound like the sound made when something sharp or rough rubs against a surface or object
informal : rough and irritating to the skin : likely to make you itch
: swollen and sore


\ ˈskra-chē How to pronounce scratchy (audio) \
scratchier; scratchiest

Kids Definition of scratchy

1 : likely to injure with something sharp a scratchy rosebush
2 : causing irritation a scratchy wool sweater
3 : coarse sense 1 I shook his scratchy hand.
4 : somewhat sore a scratchy throat

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on scratchy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scratchy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scratchy

Spanish Central: Translation of scratchy

Nglish: Translation of scratchy for Spanish Speakers

Comments on scratchy

What made you want to look up scratchy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!