Meaning of “scratch” in the English Dictionary

"scratch" in British English

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uk /skrætʃ/ us /skrætʃ/

scratch verb (CUT)

B2 [ I or T ] to cut or damage a surface or your skin slightly with or on something sharp or rough:

We scratched the wall trying to get the bed into Martha's room.
Be careful not to scratch yourself on the roses.
A few chickens were scratching about/around (= searching with their beaks) in the yard for grain.

B2 [ T ] If you scratch something on or off a surface, you add it or remove it by scratching:

People have been scratching their names on this rock for years.
I scratched some paint off the door as I was getting out of the car.

B2 [ I ] If an animal scratches, it rubs something with its claws (= sharp nails):

The dog's scratching at the door - he wants to be let in.

B2 [ I or T ] to rub your skin with your nails:

He was scratching (at) his mosquito bites.
Hannah scratched her head thoughtfully.

More examples

  • The top of the desk was badly scratched.
  • The car's paintwork has been scratched.
  • Paintwork on the corner of a stairway tends to get scratched.
  • I accidentally scratched her with my long nails.
  • I scraped the car against a post and scratched the paintwork.

scratch verb (REMOVE)

[ I or T ] to remove yourself or another person or an animal from a competition before the start:

The world champion scratched from the 800 metres after injuring herself the day before.
They scratched the horse from the race because she had become lame.


uk /skrætʃ/ us /skrætʃ/

B2 [ C ] a mark made by scratching:

Her legs were covered in scratches and bruises after her walk through the forest.
There was a scratch on the CD.
Amazingly, he survived the accident without a scratch (= without suffering any injuries at all).

[ S ] UK an act of scratching:

That dog is having a good scratch. It must have fleas.


uk /skrætʃ/ us /skrætʃ/ UK

(Definition of “scratch” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"scratch" in American English

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scratchverb [ I/T ]

us /skrætʃ/

scratch verb [ I/T ] (CUT)

to cut or damage a surface with something sharp or rough, or to rub a part of your body with something sharp or rough:

[ T ] He used a penknife to scratch his initials into the bark of the tree.
[ I ] You can hold the cat – she won’t scratch.

If you scratch your skin, you rub it with the nails of your fingers:

[ T ] I know they itch, but don’t scratch your mosquito bites.

scratch verb [ I/T ] (REMOVE)

to remove yourself or another person or an animal from a competition before the start:

[ I ] Mary Slaney scratched from the 1500-meter run because of an Achilles tendon problem.

To scratch is also to decide not to do something that you had planned to do; to cancel:

[ T ] We were going to remodel our kitchen, but we had to scratch that when I lost my job.

scratchnoun [ C ]

us /skrætʃ/

a cut or mark that is made in a surface with something sharp or rough:

Tiny particles of car wax fill in the little scratches on the car.

(Definition of “scratch” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)