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from scratch

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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.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON “THEIR,” “THERE,” AND “THEY’RE”

Are you aware how often people swap around “their,” “there,” and “they’re”? Prove you have more than a fair grasp over these commonly confused words.
Question 1 of 7
Which one of these commonly confused words can act as an adverb or a pronoun?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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