Etymology
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itch (n.)

"irritating tingling sensation in the skin," also "skin inflammation caused by a burrowing mite," Old English gicce, from giccan (v.) "to itch" (see itch (v.)). Sense of "restless desire" is first attested 1530s; itching in this sense is from mid-14c.

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itch (v.)

Middle English icchen, from Old English giccan "to itch," from West Germanic *jukkjan (source also of Middle Dutch jöken "to itch," Old High German jucchen, German jucken). Figurative sense of "feel a provoking desire to do or get something" is from early 13c. Related: Itched; itching.

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itchy (adj.)

Old English giccig; see itch + -y (2). Figurative itchy palm is attested by 1599 (Jonson; Shakespeare has itching palm in the same sense, 1601). Other figurative uses include itching ears "a hankering for gossip," itching elbows "a passion for gambling." Related: Itchiness.

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seven-year itch (n.)

1899, American English, some sort of skin condition (sometimes identified with poison ivy infection) that either lasts seven years or returns every seven years. Jocular use for "urge to stray from marital fidelity" is attested from 1952, as the title of the Broadway play (made into a film, 1955) by George Axelrod (1922-2003), in which the lead male character reads an article describing the high number of men have extra-marital affairs after seven years of marriage.

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psoriasis (n.)

"chronic non-contagious skin disease characterized by dry, red patches covered with flakes," 1680s, from medical Latin psoriasis, in Late Latin "mange, scurvy," from Greek psōriasis "the itch; a being itchy," from psōrian "to have the itch," from psōra "itch, mange, scab," related to psēn "to rub" (see psilo-). Related: Psoriatic.

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cacoethes (n.)

"itch for doing something," 1560s, from Latinized form of Greek kakoēthēs "ill-habit, wickedness, itch for doing (something)," from kakos "bad" (from PIE root *kakka- "to defecate") + ēthē- "disposition, character" (see ethos). Most famously, in Juvenal's insanabile scribendi cacoethes "incurable passion for writing."

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Cnidaria (n.)

phylum of stinging invertebrates, 1860, with abstract noun ending -ia + Latinized form of Greek knidē "nettle," from stem of knizein "to scratch scrape," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes compares Lithuanian knìsti "to scratch, itch, tickle," knisù "to grub up;" Latvian knidet "to itch, geminate, creep;" Old Norse hnita "to push against;" Middle Irish cned "wound." Related: Cnidarian.

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yuck (1)

exclamation of disgust, 1966, origin perhaps echoic (compare Newfoundland slang yuck "to vomit," 1963; U.S. slang yuck "despised person," 1943; provincial English yuck "the itch, mange, scabies"). Variant yech is by 1969.

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pruritus (n.)

"affection of the skin characterized by simple itching without visible eruption," 1650s, from Latin pruritus, past participle of prurire "to itch" (see prurient). The word was earlier in English via Old French in form prurite (early 15c.). Related: Pruritic.

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scabies (n.)

skin disease characterized by eruptions and inflammation, c. 1400, "the itch; scabby skin generally," from Latin scabies "mange, itch, roughness," from scabere "to scratch, scrape" (from PIE root *(s)kep-, a base forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack," source also of Gothic scaban, Old English sceafan "to scrape, shave;" Greek skaptein "to dig;" Old Church Slavonic skobli "scraper;" Lithuanian skabus "sharp," skabėti "to cut;" Lettish skabrs "splintery, sharp").

Modern medical use in reference to a contagious skin disease due to a parasitic mite is by 1814. The older name for a skin condition or disease was simply scab. Scabbed "afflicted with scabies or mange" is by c. 1300. Related: Scabious.

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