scratch that: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘scratch that’ mean?

The idiom scratch that means to cancel or disregard something that was just said or suggested.

Idiom Explorer

Unexpected Origins

The idiom "scratch that" is a commonly used phrase in American English that is often used to indicate the need for a correction or change in a previously stated thought, plan, or decision. It is a concise way for a speaker or writer to retract or revise their words. The meaning of the idiom comes from the literal act of physically "scratching" or erasing a mistake or unwanted item.

One use of the idiom "scratch that" is in conversations or meetings, where someone may express an idea or suggestion but later determine that it is incorrect or no longer suitable. The speaker would then request the audience to ignore their previous statement by saying "never mind." The phrase "never mind" is similar to "scratch that" in that it acknowledges the need to disregard a previous statement.

The idiom "scratch that" is also related to the phrase "brush off." When someone says "brush off," they are dismissing or disregarding something as unimportant or insignificant. This is similar to "scratch that" in the sense that both idioms involve dismissing or disregarding a previous statement or idea.

In addition, the idiom "scratch that" is associated with the phrase "scratch an itch." When someone says they need to "scratch an itch," they are referring to satisfying a desire or addressing a need. This is similar to "scratch that" in the sense that both idioms involve satisfying a need or desire by revising or retracting a previous statement.

Please delete the inaccurate information and amend the mistake.

Another related idiom is "sweep aside." When someone says they want to "sweep aside" something, they are expressing a desire to dismiss or ignore it. This is similar to "scratch that" in the sense that both idioms involve dismissing or ignoring a previous statement or idea.

The origin of the idiom "scratch that" can be traced back to the act of making marks or corrections on a physical surface, such as paper. In the past, before the digital era, errors or changes would often be rectified by physically scratching the mistaken mark or text with a pen or pencil, effectively removing it from the page. Hence, the idiom "scratch that" metaphorically captures this visual action as a way to annul or amend a verbal statement.

Furthermore, the idiomatic expression "scratch that" shares similarities with other idioms such as "take it back" or "retract that." All of these idioms encompass the idea of revoking or reversing a previous verbal statement. However, "scratch that" stands out due to its vivid imagery of erasing a physical mark, which adds a layer of concreteness to its figurative meaning.

This idiom is widely used in various informal and formal settings, including casual conversations, professional meetings, and even written communication. Its adaptability across different contexts highlights its utility as a concise and effective method of clarifying or rectifying statements, thus further establishing its prominence in American English.

The idiom "scratch that" is a prevalent idiomatic expression in American English that signifies the need to revise or retract a previously stated thought, plan, or decision. Its origin can be traced to physically "scratching" or erasing erroneous marks on a surface, and it has become a versatile phrase used in numerous situations. The idiom's longevity and widespread usage in various settings exemplify its continued relevance in contemporary American English.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "scratch that" can be used in a sentence:

  1. I thought we were going to have a meeting tomorrow, but scratch that, it's been moved to next week.

  2. She ordered a burger with fries, but then she changed her mind and said scratch that, she wanted a salad instead.

  3. He was about to give some feedback on the project, but then he realized he had made a mistake, and said scratch that, he didn't have any comments to make.

More "Correction" idioms

We missed the mark - nothing found.