scratch

1 of 3

verb

scratched; scratching; scratches

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
3
a
: 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
6
a
: to cancel or erase by or as if by drawing a line through
b
: to withdraw (an entry) from competition
7
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
4
a
: 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
scratcher noun

scratch

2 of 3

noun

1
: a mark or injury produced by scratching
also : a slight wound
2
3
: the sound made by scratching
4
: the starting line in a race
5
a
: 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: a contestant whose name is withdrawn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

8
a
: 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

scratch

3 of 3

adjective

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
Phrases
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
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

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Did you know?

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.

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Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
For light scratches like the one in our test, scratch removers really do work. Collin Morgan And Jon Langston, Car and Driver, 16 Sep. 2022 In Arizona, for instance, sales for all draws and scratch-off games from July 1 to July 29 totaled $123.5 million, up 152% from the fiscal year-to-date projection, according to John Turner Gilliland, public information officer for Arizona Lottery. Alyssa Lukpat, WSJ, 3 Aug. 2022 The same goes for dogs that like to play rough with their beds and dig and scratch the surface. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 17 Aug. 2022 The Sandman season 1 is now streaming on Netflix, but readers of the legendary 75-issue comic written by Neil Gaiman know those 10 episodes barely scratch the surface of the series' potential. Christian Holub, EW.com, 9 Aug. 2022 And the Qatari funds may only scratch the surface of foreign money Texas A&M has received but not reported. Neetu Arnold, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Since the boom of the natural hair movement a few years back, the mainstream hair care industry finally began to create products for textured hair, but continue to only scratch the surface. Sarah Boyd, Forbes, 8 Mar. 2022 Trees too close to your roof can scratch and gouge the roof. Kaitlyn Keegan, Hartford Courant, 16 Aug. 2022 For some, though, the MacTigr's claws will scratch enough itches. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 16 Aug. 2022
Noun
The surface seems a bit more scratch-prone than other options. Rena Behar, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Sep. 2022 After hitting it with a spoon in our durability test, there was a little denting and chipping on the outside of the Dutch oven, but the inside did not suffer a single scratch. Rennie Dyball, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2022 Gaviria set up supply chains from scratch with heirloom corn growers in Oaxaca, selling wholesale corn to restaurants, as well as masa harina and other related food items and paraphernalia to consumers. Emma Balter, Chron, 14 Sep. 2022 The woman received a scratch on her face and items in the room were damaged. cleveland, 14 Sep. 2022 The condition contributed to his 2016 scratch midway through Iditarod, and a withdrawal from the field ahead of the 2017 race. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Sep. 2022 Last season also was a mental challenge for Lewis, a healthy scratch the last five regular-season games and for the playoffs. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2022 This scratch-and-reveal poster will inspire them to watch 100 of Hollywood's best offerings — a mix of action flicks, tearjerkers and must-watch classics. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, 26 Aug. 2022 Did the elegant white gold case of Button’s recently acquired GMT take on a ding or scratch during those hot laps? Cameron Barr, Robb Report, 25 Aug. 2022
Adjective
The frames are made from acetate, and the lenses include an anti-scratch coating. Cai Cramer, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2022 With various tint options available on most of the brand's frames, Gunnar also applies a silicone anti-scratch coating and UV blocking finishes to each of their glasses. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 9 Sep. 2022 Then, dampen a non-scratch sponge with vinegar, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub. Caitlin Sole, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Aug. 2022 According to Brown, mild dish soap and a soft-bristle scrub brush or non-scratch scrub sponge will keep minerals from collecting around the faucet head when used frequently. Kristina Mcguirk, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 July 2022 Some feature the trending astronaut bubble window (such as the Lollimeow Pet Carrier Backpack, which any cat lover has doubtless seen on Instagram), while others are covered in sizable, strong breathable mesh panels made of anti-scratch material. Malia Griggs, SELF, 29 Apr. 2022 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, PEOPLE.com, 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 See More

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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Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English scracchen, probably blend of scratten to scratch and cracchen to scratch

First Known Use

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near scratch

Cite this Entry

“Scratch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scratch. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

scratch 1 of 2

verb

scratched; scratching
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

2 of 2

noun

: a mark or injury made by scraping with something sharp

More from Merriam-Webster on scratch

Last Updated: 21 Sep 2022

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