American English

Definition of scratch verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they scratch
    he / she / it scratches
    past simple scratched
    -ing form scratching
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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.
  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 goal. 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 scratches a living from the soil.
  12. cancel
  13. 7[transitive, intransitive] to decide that something cannot happen, or someone or 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.
  14. 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 (saying)
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    used to say that if someone helps you, you will help them, even if this is unfair to others
    Phrasal Verbsscratch around (for something)scratch somethingout
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: scratch