Date: 1300-1400
Origin: Probably from scrat 'to scratch' (13-19 centuries) + cratch 'to scratch' (13-16 centuries)


1 verb
Related topics: Colours and Sounds, Sport

rub your skin

[intransitive and transitive] to rub your skin with your nails because it feels uncomfortable [↪ itch]:
John yawned and scratched his leg.
Try not to scratch.
scratch at
He was scratching at the bites on his arm.

cut somebody's skin

[intransitive and transitive] to cut someone's skin slightly with your nails or with something sharp:
She ran at him and scratched his face.
Don't scratch yourself on the thorns.

make a mark

[transitive] to make a small cut or mark on something by pulling something sharp across it:
I'm afraid I've scratched your car.
Some of the prisoners had scratched their names on the walls.


[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]C if an animal scratches, it rubs its feet against something, often making a noise:
A few chickens scratched around in the yard.
scratch at
a dog scratching at the door to be let in

remove something

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to remove something from a surface by rubbing it with something sharp
scratch something off/away etc
I scratched away a little of the paint with my fingernail.

remove writing

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to remove a word from a piece of writing by drawing a line through it
scratch something from/off something
I have scratched his name from the list.

make a noise

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to make a rough sound by moving something sharp across a surface:
His pen scratched away on the paper.

scratch the surface

to deal with only a very small part of a subject or problem
scratch the surface of
I think we have only scratched the surface of this problem.

scratch your head

informal to think carefully about a difficult question or problem:
This crisis has politicians scratching their heads and wondering what to do.

stop something happening

[transitive] informal if you scratch an idea or a plan, you decide that you will not do it

remove from race

[intransitive and transitive] informalDS if someone scratches from a race, or if you scratch them from the race, they do not take part in it

you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

spoken used to say that you will help someone if they agree to help you

➔ scrape/scratch a living

at living2 (1)

scratch around

phrasal verb
to try to find or get something which is difficult to find or get
scratch around for
homeless people scratching around for a place to shelter

scratch something ↔ out

phrasal verb
to remove a word from a piece of writing by drawing a line through it:
Emma's name had been scratched out.

Dictionary results for "scratch"
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