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Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Idioms about scratch

    from scratch,
    1. from the very beginning or starting point.
    2. from nothing; without resources: After the depression he started another business from scratch.
    up to scratch, in conformity with a certain standard; adequate; satisfactory: The local symphony orchestra has improved this year, but it is still not up to scratch.

Origin of scratch

1425–75; late Middle English scracche (v.), blend of Middle English scratte to scratch, and cracche to scratch; cognate with Middle Dutch cratsen


Other definitions for scratch (2 of 2)

[ skrach ]
/ skrætʃ /

Old Scratch; Satan.

Origin of Scratch

1730–40; alteration of scrat hermaphrodite (late Middle English scratte; compare Old English scritta (once), which may be an error for *scratta); cognate with Old Norse skratti devil, goblin, wizard, Old High German skraz wood-demon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What’s the difference between scratch and itch?

To scratch something is to scrape it or rub it. An itch is a feeling of irritation on the skin, often one that makes you want to scratch it. The word itch can also be used as a verb meaning to have this sensation (as in My leg itches) or to cause to itch (as in The tag on my shirt keeps itching me).

Itch also has some more figurative meanings as both a noun and a verb.

The reason you looked this up, though, is because itch is sometimes informally used to mean the same thing as scratch, as in Try not to itch your mosquito bites—it will only make them itchier! Language purists are often itching to clarify that you scratch an itch, but this verb use of itch is quite common.

As a noun, the word scratch means something different—a cut or scrape, typically a minor one caused by something having scratched the skin, as in I got a few scratches from the thornbush. 

Here’s an example of scratch and itch used correctly in the same sentence.

Example: I know your rash itches, but don’t scratch your itch so hard—you’ll leave a scratch on your arm!

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between scratch and itch.

Quiz yourself on scratch vs. itch!

Should scratch or itch be used in the following sentence?

This new lotion makes me _____—I hope I’m not allergic to it.

How to use scratch in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for scratch

/ (skrætʃ) /


Derived forms of scratch

scratchy, adjectivescratchily, adverbscratchiness, noun

Word Origin for scratch

C15: via Old French escrater from Germanic; compare Old High German krazzōn (German kratzen); related to Old French gratter to grate 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with scratch


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.