verb (used with object)
- to divide (one's vote) though predominantly supporting one political party or faction.
- to strike out or reject a particular name or names on (a party ticket) in voting.
verb (used without object)
- a shot resulting in a penalty, especially a pocketing of the cue ball without hitting the object ball.
- a fluke or lucky shot.
- from the very beginning or starting point.
- from nothing; without resources: After the depression he started another business from scratch.
Origin of scratch
- to make a shot resulting in a penalty
- to make a lucky shot
- a competitor or the status of a competitor who has no allowance or receives a penalty
- (as modifier)a scratch player
- the line from which competitors start in a race
- (formerly) a line drawn on the floor of a prize ring at which the contestants stood to begin or continue fighting
- a shot that results in a penalty, as when the cue ball enters the pocket
- a lucky shot
Word Origin for scratch
c.1400, probably a fusion of Middle English scratten and crachen, both meaning "to scratch," both of uncertain origin. Related: Scratched; scratching.
Billiards sense of "to hit the cue ball into a pocket" is first recorded 1909 (also, originally, itch), though earlier it meant "a lucky shot" (1850). Meaning "to withdraw (a horse) from a race" is 1865, from notion of scratching name off list of competitors; used in a non-sporting sense of "cancel a plan, etc." from 1680s. To scratch the surface "make only slight progress in penetrating or understanding" is from 1882. To scratch (one's) head as a gesture of perplexity is recorded from 1712.
in Old Scratch "the Devil," 1740, from earlier Scrat, from Old Norse skratte "goblin, wizard," a word which was used in late Old English to gloss "hermaphrodite;" probably originally "monster" (cf. Old High German scraz, scrato "satyr, wood demon," German Schratt, Old High German screz "a goblin, imp, dwarf;" borrowed from Germanic into Slavic, e.g. Polish skrzot "a goblin").
1580s, "slight skin tear produced by a sharp thing," from scratch (v.). Meaning "mark or slight furrow in metal, etc." is from 1660s. American English slang sense of "money" is from 1914, of uncertain signification. Many figurative senses (e.g. up to scratch, originally "ready to meet one's opponent") are from sporting use for "line or mark drawn as a starting place," attested from 1778 (but the earliest use is figurative); meaning "nothing" (as in from scratch) is 1918, generalized from specific 19c. sporting sense of "starting point of a competitor who receives no odds in a handicap match." Sense in billiards is from 1850. Scratch-pad is attested from 1883.
From the very beginning, from the outset; from nothing. For example, I knew we'd have a problem from scratch. Similarly, to start from scratch means “to start from the very beginning,” as in After the business failed, they decided to reorganize and start from scratch. This term comes from racing, where a competitor starts from the line scratched into the ground (whereas others may start ahead with a handicap). [Mid-1800s] Also see from the ground up; from the word go.
In addition to the idioms beginning with scratch
- scratch one's head
- scratch someone's back
- scratch the surface
- from scratch
- up to par (scratch)