Denotation vs. Connotation


[skrach] /skrætʃ/
verb (used with object)
to break, mar, or mark the surface of by rubbing, scraping, or tearing with something sharp or rough:
to scratch one's hand on a nail.
to dig, scrape, or tear (something) out or off with or as if with the nails, claws, etc.:
to scratch the burs off one's coat.
to rub or scrape slightly, as with the fingernails, to relieve itching.
to rub or draw along a rough, grating surface:
to scratch a match on the sidewalk.
to erase, cancel, strike out, or eliminate (a name, something written, etc.) by or as if by drawing a line through it (often followed by out):
Scratch out the third name on the list.
to withdraw (an entry) from a race or competition.
U.S. Politics.
  1. to divide (one's vote) though predominantly supporting one political party or faction.
  2. to strike out or reject a particular name or names on (a party ticket) in voting.
to write or draw by scraping or cutting the lines into a surface:
She scratched her initials on the glass.
to manipulate (a phonograph record) back and forth under the stylus to produce rhythmic sounds.
verb (used without object)
to use the nails, claws, etc., for tearing, digging, etc.
to relieve itching by rubbing or scraping lightly, as with the fingernails.
to make a slight grating noise, as a pen.
to earn a living or to manage in any respect with great difficulty:
We scratched along that year on very little money.
to withdraw or be withdrawn from a contest or competition.
(in certain card games) to make no score; earn no points.
Billiards, Pool. to make a shot that results in a penalty, especially to pocket the cue ball without hitting the object ball.
a slight injury, mar, or mark, usually thin and shallow, caused by scratching:
three scratches on my leg; a noticeable scratch on the table.
a rough mark made by a pen, pencil, etc.; scrawl.
an act of scratching.
the slight grating sound caused by scratching.
the starting place, starting time, or status of a competitor in a handicap who has no allowance and no penalty.
Billiards, Pool.
  1. a shot resulting in a penalty, especially a pocketing of the cue ball without hitting the object ball.
  2. a fluke or lucky shot.
(in certain card games) a score of zero; nothing.
Baseball. scratch hit.
Slang. money; cash.
used for hasty writing, notes, etc.:
scratch paper.
without any allowance, penalty, or handicap, as a competitor or contestant.
Informal. done by or dependent on chance:
a scratch shot.
Informal. gathered hastily and indiscriminately:
a scratch crew.
done or made from scratch:
a scratch cake.
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
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English scracche (v.), blend of Middle English scratte to scratch, and cracche to scratch; cognate with Middle Dutch cratsen
Related forms
scratchable, adjective
scratchably, adverb
scratcher, noun
scratchless, adjective
scratchlike, adjective
unscratchable, adjective
unscratched, adjective
unscratching, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scratch out
Historical Examples
  • He sprang towards his captor in an ineffectual attempt to hit him, or to scratch out his eyes with his finger nails.

    In School and Out Oliver Optic
  • And she seized him like a fury, and tried to scratch out his eyes.

  • Ah, there you are, and a nice mess you have made of yourselves trying to scratch out a hole five hundred yards long.

  • By all the devils in hell, I'll scratch out his eyes with my own nails!

    The Robbers Friedrich Schiller
  • But you see they are ready to scratch out even my eyes at the thought that I have been rubbing her down the wrong way.

    A Pessimist Robert Timsol
  • But you ought to be able to scratch out a deep enough hole to cram this in.

  • They had dropped unnoticed out of the ranks; and remained to scratch out a living among the abandoned claims.

    While the Billy Boils Henry Lawson
  • I have a good mind to bite off their noses and scratch out their eyes.

    Father Thrift and His Animal Friends Joseph Charles Sindelar
  • I suppose they neglected to scratch out my name from the subscription; for Major Cerwood says it really came to me.

    Camilla Fanny Burney
  • I think I must turn womankind altogether, and scratch out his eyes; for as long as he can see me, he'll ne'er let me go.

British Dictionary definitions for scratch out


to mark or cut (the surface of something) with a rough or sharp instrument
often foll by at, out, off, etc. to scrape (the surface of something), as with claws, nails, etc
to scrape (the surface of the skin) with the nails, as to relieve itching
to chafe or irritate (a surface, esp the skin)
to make or cause to make a grating sound; scrape
(transitive) sometimes foll by out. to erase by or as if by scraping
(transitive) to write or draw awkwardly
(intransitive) sometimes foll by along. to earn a living, manage, etc, with difficulty
to withdraw (an entry) from a race, match, etc
(intransitive) (billiards, snooker)
  1. to make a shot resulting in a penalty
  2. to make a lucky shot
(transitive) (US) to cancel (the name of a candidate) from a party ticket in an election
(Austral, informal) (intransitive) often foll by for. to be struggling or in difficulty, esp in earning a living
to treat (a subject) superficially
you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, if you will help me, I will help you
the act of scratching
a slight injury
a mark made by scratching
a slight grating sound
(in a handicap sport)
  1. a competitor or the status of a competitor who has no allowance or receives a penalty
  2. (as modifier): a scratch player
the time, initial score, etc, of such a competitor
  1. the line from which competitors start in a race
  2. (formerly) a line drawn on the floor of a prize ring at which the contestants stood to begin or continue fighting
a withdrawn competitor in a race, etc
(billiards, snooker)
  1. a shot that results in a penalty, as when the cue ball enters the pocket
  2. a lucky shot
poultry food
(informal) from scratch, from the very beginning
(usually used with a negative) (informal) up to scratch, up to standard
(sport) (of a team) assembled hastily
(in a handicap sport) with no allowance or penalty
(informal) rough or haphazard
Derived Forms
scratchy, adjective
scratchily, adverb
scratchiness, noun
Word Origin
C15: via Old French escrater from Germanic; compare Old High German krazzōn (German kratzen); related to Old French gratter to grate1
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
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Word Origin and History for scratch out



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.


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.



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").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for scratch out



Hastily arranged; impromptu; spur of the moment; pickup: a scratch jazz ensemble (1851+)


  1. Money; bread, dough: If the mayor doesn't come up with the scratch (1914+)
  2. A loan; an act of borrowing money: where they are going to make a scratch for tomorrow's operations (1930s+)
  3. : two scratches in the third race
  4. : She had found one ''scratch,'' a ticket bet on a horse that had not started (1970s+ Horse racing)
  5. (also itch): He made a scratch at a crucial juncture/ And when the cue ball goes into the pocket, you call that an itch (Billiards 1909+)
  6. A mention of one's name in the news media, esp when this is useful publicity (late 1930s+)


  1. To cancel a horse from a race (1902+ Horse racing)
  2. To cancel a plan, an entrant, someone on a list, etc; scrub: Looks like our teˆte-a`-teˆte will have to be scratched (1685+)
  3. (also itch) To put the cue ball into a pocket inadvertently (Billiards 1909+)

Related Terms

from scratch, start from scratch, up to scratch, you scratch my back i scratch yours

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with scratch out
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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