By 1996, Haitians were scratching their heads in bewilderment, asking themselves Why has America come to save us?
Biting, scratching, beating the bejesus out of one another, bounty hunting.
There are many cultural phenomena that leave me scratching my head.
Venezuelans are scratching their heads over the mysterious silence of their ordinarily garrulous leader.
As for this latest controversy, though, Bordeaux, who is white, is scratching his head.
Strange to say, hundreds live in this way, which is vulgarly called "scratching" in New York.
At about noon we found some water in a gully by scratching a hole, but it was quite salt.
She peeped into the cart-shed, where the hens were scratching about among the loose straw.
"I know not about that," said the big archer, scratching his head in perplexity.
Now, 'scratching' is the most difficult feature of the art of voting, and if women have mastered this, they are doing very well.
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").
Hastily arranged; impromptu; spur of the moment; pickup: a scratch jazz ensemble (1851+)