from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make a thin shallow cut or mark on (a surface) with a sharp instrument.
  • transitive v. To use the nails or claws to dig or scrape at.
  • transitive v. To rub or scrape (the skin) to relieve itching.
  • transitive v. To scrape or strike on an abrasive surface.
  • transitive v. To write or draw (something) by scraping a surface: scratched their initials on a rock.
  • transitive v. To write or draw hurriedly: scratched off a thank-you note.
  • transitive v. To strike out or cancel (a word, for example) by or as if by drawing lines through.
  • transitive v. Slang To cancel (a project or program, for example).
  • transitive v. To withdraw (an entry) from a contest.
  • intransitive v. To use the nails or claws to dig, scrape, or wound.
  • intransitive v. To rub or scrape the skin to relieve itching.
  • intransitive v. To make a harsh scraping sound.
  • intransitive v. To gather funds or produce a living with difficulty.
  • intransitive v. To withdraw from a contest.
  • intransitive v. 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.
  • n. A mark resembling a line that is produced by scratching.
  • n. A slight wound.
  • n. A hasty scribble.
  • n. A sound made by scratching.
  • n. Sports The starting line for a race.
  • n. A contestant who has been withdrawn from a competition.
  • n. Games The act of scratching in billiards.
  • n. Games A fluke or chance shot in billiards.
  • n. Poultry feed.
  • n. Slang Money.
  • adj. Done haphazardly or by chance.
  • adj. Assembled hastily or at random.
  • adj. Sports Having no golf handicap.
  • idiom from scratch From the very beginning.
  • idiom scratch the surface To investigate or treat something superficially.
  • idiom up to scratch Informal Meeting the requirements.
  • idiom up to scratch Informal In fit condition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To rub a surface with a sharp object, especially by a living creature to remove itching with nails, claws, etc.
  • v. To rub the skin with rough material causing a sensation of irritation.
  • v. To mark a surface with a sharp object, thereby leaving a scratch (noun).
  • v. To remove, ignore or delete.
  • v. To produce a distinctive sound on a turntable by moving a vinyl record back and forth while manipulating the crossfader (see also scratching).
  • v. To commit a foul in pool, as where the cue ball is put into a pocket or jumps off the table.
  • n. A disruption, mark or shallow cut on a surface made by scratching.
  • n. An act of scratching the skin to alleviate an itch or irritation.
  • n. A starting line (originally and simply, a line scratched in the ground).
  • n. A foul in pool, as where the cue ball is put into a pocket or jumps off the table.
  • n. Money.
  • n. A technical error of touching or surpassing the starting mark prior to the official start signal in the sporting events of long jump, discus, hammer throw, shot put, and similar. Originally the starting mark was a scratch on the ground but is now a board or precisely indicated mark.
  • n. A feed, usually a mixture of a few common grains, given to chickens.
  • adj. For or consisting of preliminary or tentative, incomplete, etc. work.
  • adj. Hastily assembled; put together in a hurry or from disparate elements.
  • adj. Relating to a data structure or recording medium attached to a machine for testing or temporary use.
  • adj. Constructed from whatever materials are to hand.
  • adj. (of a player) Of a standard high enough to play without a handicap, i.e. to compete without the benefit of a variation in scoring based on ability.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Made, done, or happening by chance; arranged with little or no preparation; determined by circumstances; haphazard.
  • n. A break in the surface of a thing made by scratching, or by rubbing with anything pointed or rough; a slight wound, mark, furrow, or incision.
  • n. A line across the prize ring; up to which boxers are brought when they join fight; hence, test, trial, or proof of courage.
  • n. Minute, but tender and troublesome, excoriations, covered with scabs, upon the heels of horses which have been used where it is very wet or muddy.
  • n. A kind of wig covering only a portion of the head.
  • n.
  • n. A shot which scores by chance and not as intended by the player; a fluke.
  • n. a shot which results in a penalty, such as dropping the cue ball in a pocket without hitting another ball.
  • n. In various sports, the line from which the start is made, except in the case of contestants receiving a distance handicap.
  • intransitive v. To use the claws or nails in tearing or in digging; to make scratches.
  • intransitive v. To score, not by skillful play but by some fortunate chance of the game.
  • transitive v. To rub and tear or mark the surface of with something sharp or ragged; to scrape, roughen, or wound slightly by drawing something pointed or rough across, as the claws, the nails, a pin, or the like.
  • transitive v. To write or draw hastily or awkwardly.
  • transitive v. To cancel by drawing one or more lines through, as the name of a candidate upon a ballot, or of a horse in a list; hence, to erase; to efface; -- often with out.
  • transitive v. To dig or excavate with the claws.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To mark or wound slightly on the surface by the scraping or tearing action of something rough, sharp, or pointed.
  • To rub or scrape, as with the finger-nails or with a scratcher, but without wounding or marking, as for the purpose of relieving itching or irritation.
  • To write or draw hurriedly or awkwardly; scribble.
  • To dig, scrape, or excavate with the claws: as, some animals scratch holes in which they burrow.
  • To erase or blot out; obliterate; expunge.
  • Specifically
  • In horse-racing, to erase, as the name of a horse, from the list of starters.
  • In United States politics, to erase (the name of a candidate on a printed ballot) by drawing a line through it; hence, to reject (a candidate).
  • Synonyms Chafe, Abrade, etc. See scrape.
  • To use the nails, claws, or the like for tearing the surface, or for digging, as a hen.
  • To relieve cutaneous irritation by the scraping action of the nails or claws or of a scratcher.
  • In United States politics, to expunge or delete a name on a voting-paper or ballot; reject one or more candidates on a regular party ticket, by canceling their names before casting the ballot.
  • In billiards, to make a scratch or fluke.
  • n. A break in the surface of a thing made by scratching, or by rubbing with anything pointed; a slight furrow; a score: as, a scratch on wood or glass.
  • n. A slight wound; a laceration; a slight incision: as, he escaped with a mere scratch on the face.
  • n. plural A disease in horses, consisting of dry chaps, rifts, or scabs between the heel and the pastern-joint.
  • n. In various contests:
  • n. The line from which the contestants start.
  • n. A line drawn across a prize-ring, to which boxers are brought in order to join fight. See to come up to the scratch, under come.
  • n. The starting-point or time of starting of a player or contestant who has to make the full score or who is allowed no odds in a handicap game or contest; also, a player or competitor holding such a position.
  • n. In billiards, a stroke which is successful, but not in the way intended; a fluke.
  • n. A kind of wig covering only a part of the head; a scratch-wig.
  • n. A calcareous, earthy, or stony substance which separates from sea-water in boiling it for salt.
  • n. A scrawl.
  • Taken at random or haphazard, or without regard to qualifications; taken indiscriminately; heterogeneous: as, a scratch crew.
  • Without handicap or allowance of time or distance: noting a race or contest in which all competitors start from the same mark or on even terms, or a competitor who receives no handicap allowance.
  • To treat with a scratch-brush, as in finishing metal.
  • n. In billiards: In handicaps, the zero starting-mark.
  • n. A ‘fluke,’ in any game.
  • n. In pool, the mark by which forfeitures are designated and tallied.
  • In sports and games, so good as to be obliged to start at scratch (or give handicaps to opponents) literally or figuratively; very skilful.
  • Having been scratched off a list of entries, etc.: implying nothing dishonorable: as, a scratch colt, one which had been entered for the two year olds; a scratch nominee.
  • n. A devil: only in the phrase Old Scratch, the devil.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a line indicating the location of the start of a race or a game
  • n. a depression scratched or carved into a surface
  • v. scrape or rub as if to relieve itching
  • n. poor handwriting
  • n. a competitor who has withdrawn from competition
  • n. an abraded area where the skin is torn or worn off
  • v. postpone indefinitely or annul something that was scheduled
  • n. a harsh noise made by scraping
  • v. gather (money or other resources) together over time
  • v. cut the surface of; wear away the surface of
  • n. informal terms for money
  • v. carve, cut, or etch into a material or surface
  • n. dry mash for poultry
  • n. (golf) a handicap of zero strokes
  • v. remove by erasing or crossing out or as if by drawing a line
  • n. an indication of damage
  • v. cause friction


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English scracchen, probably blend of scratten, to scratch, and cracchen, to scratch (possibly from Middle Dutch cratsen).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from a blend of the Middle English words scratten ("to scratch") and crachen ("to scratch").



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  • A kind of wig covering only a portion of the head. --from the definitions.

    January 6, 2013