Definition of scratch verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//skrætʃ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//skrætʃ//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they scratch
    BrE BrE//skrætʃ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//skrætʃ//
    he / she / it scratches
    BrE BrE//ˈskrætʃɪz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈskrætʃɪz//
    past simple scratched
    BrE BrE//skrætʃt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//skrætʃt//
    past participle scratched
    BrE BrE//skrætʃt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//skrætʃt//
    -ing form scratching
    BrE BrE//ˈskrætʃɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈskrætʃɪŋ//
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    rub with your nails
  1. 1  [transitive, intransitive] to rub your skin with your nails, usually because it is itching scratch something/yourself John yawned and scratched his chin. The dog scratched itself behind the ear. scratch (at something) Try not to scratch. She scratched at the insect bites on her arm.
  2. cut skin
  3. 2  [transitive, intransitive] to cut or damage your skin slightly with something sharp scratch (somebody/something/yourself) I'd scratched my leg and it was bleeding. Does the cat scratch? scratch somebody/something/yourself on something She scratched herself on a nail. See related entries: Injuries
  4. damage surface
  5. 3  [transitive] scratch something to damage the surface of something, especially by accident, by making thin shallow marks on it Be careful not to scratch the furniture. The car's paintwork is badly scratched.
  6. make/remove mark
  7. 4  [transitive] scratch something + adv./prep. to make or remove a mark, etc. on something deliberately, by rubbing it with something hard or sharp They scratched lines in the dirt to mark out a pitch. Some graffiti had been scratched on the back of the door. We scratched some of the dirt away. (figurative) You can scratch my name off the list.
  8. make sound
  9. 5[intransitive] (+ adv./prep.) to make an irritating noise by rubbing something with something sharp His pen scratched away on the paper. We could hear mice scratching behind the wall.
  10. a living
  11. 6[transitive] scratch a living to make enough money to live on, but with difficulty 75% of the population scratch a living from the soil.
  12. cancel
  13. 7[transitive, intransitive] to decide that something cannot happen or somebody/something cannot take part in something, before it starts scratch somebody/something to scratch a rocket launch scratch somebody/something (from something) The horse was scratched from the race because of injury. scratch (from something) She had scratched because of a knee injury.
  14. Word Originlate Middle English: probably a blend of the synonymous dialect words scrat and cratch, both of uncertain origin; compare with Middle Low German kratsen and Old High German krazzōn.Extra examples He absently scratched his head. He kept scratching at his nose. He scratched at his beard for a few seconds. I could hear the dog scratching at the door. I scratched my arm on a rose bush. She scratched his face with her nails. The table had been badly scratched. I’d scratched my leg and it was bleeding. She had obviously tried to scratch her attacker. The car’s paintwork is badly scratched. The dog kept scratching at the door to go out.Idioms
    scratch your head (over something)
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    to think hard in order to find an answer to something Experts have been scratching their heads over the increase in teenage crime.
    scratch the surface (of something)
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    to deal with, understand, or find out about only a small part of a subject or problem We left feeling that we had just scratched the surface of this fascinating country.
    you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
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    (saying) used to say that if somebody helps you, you will help them, even if this is unfair to others
    Phrasal Verbsscratch aboutscratch somethingout
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: scratch