Words related to scratch


initial sound-cluster, containing the exceptions to the general rule that sc- or sk- in Modern English indicates a word not from Old English (whose sc- regularly becomes sh-). Words often are found in pairs, especially in dialect and slang, one in scr-, one in shr- (or schr-); a prominent surviving example is shred and screed, the same Old English word surviving in two forms now much different in meaning.

OED also notes that "Many English words beginning with scr- agree more or less closely in meaning with other words differing from them in form only by the absence of the initial s" (such as crunch/scrunch, scringe, an alternative form of cringe, etc.)

It does not appear that these coincidences are due to any one general cause ..., but it is probable that the existence of many pairs of synonyms with scr- and cr- produced a tendency to change cr-, in words expressive of sounds or physical movements, into scr- so as to render the word echoic or phonetically symbolic. [OED]
scratchy (adj.)

1710, "affected with 'the scratch,'" a skin disease (a sense now obsolete), from scratch (n.1) + -y (2). In reference to pen- or brush-work, "composed of scratches," by 1827, hence "ragged, rough, irregular." The sense of "grating" is by 1866. Of sounds (especially in recorded reproduction) by 1889. Related: Scratchiness.

backscratcher (n.)

also back-scratcher, "rod or other device for scratching one's own back," 1834; see back (n.) + scratch (v.).

scotch (v.)

early 15c., scocchen "to cut, score, gash, make an incision," a word of obscure origin. Century Dictionary considers that it might be a deformation of scratch. Chronology rules out connection with scorch. Perhaps [Barnhart] from Anglo-French escocher, Old French cocher "to notch, nick," from coche "a notch, groove," perhaps from Latin coccum "berry of the scarlet oak," which appears notched, from Greek kokkos

The meaning "stamp out, crush" (often figurative, of abstract things) is by 1825, earlier "make harmless for a time, wound slightly" (1798), a sense that derives from an uncertain reading of "Macbeth" III.ii.13). Related: Scotched; scotching.

scratcher (n.)

"one who or that which scratches," 1550s, agent noun from scratch (v.).