v. scratched, scratch·ing, scratch·es
1. To make a thin shallow cut or mark on (a surface) with a sharp instrument.
2. To use the nails or claws to dig or scrape at.
3. To rub or scrape (the skin) to relieve itching.
4. To scrape or strike on an abrasive surface.
5. To write or draw (something) by scraping a surface: scratched their initials on a rock.
6. To write or draw hurriedly: scratched off a thank-you note.
a. To strike out or cancel (a word, for example) by or as if by drawing lines through.
b. Slang To cancel (a project or program, for example).
a. To withdraw (an entry) from a contest or competition: The jockey decided to scratch the horse when it sprained its ankle.
b. To withdraw an entry from (a contest or competition): Having won three races already, the swimmer scratched her final event.
1. To use the nails or claws to dig, scrape, or wound.
2. To rub or scrape the skin to relieve itching.
3. To make a harsh scraping sound.
4. To gather funds or produce a living with difficulty.
a. To withdraw from a contest or competition.
b. Games To make a shot in billiards that results in a penalty, as when the cue ball falls into a pocket or jumps the cushion.
a. A mark resembling a line that is produced by scratching.
b. A slight wound.
2. A hasty scribble.
3. A sound made by scratching.
a. Sports The starting line for a race.
b. A contestant who has been withdrawn from a competition.
a. The act of scratching in billiards.
b. A fluke or chance shot in billiards.
6. Poultry feed.
7. Slang Money.
1. Done haphazardly or by chance.
2. Assembled hastily or at random.
3. Sports Having no golf handicap.
From the very beginning.
scratch the surface
To investigate or treat something in superficial or preliminary fashion.
up to scratch Informal
1. Meeting the requirements.
2. In fit condition.
[Middle English scracchen, probably blend of scratten, to scratch, and cracchen, to scratch (possibly from Middle Dutch cratsen).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.