I've heard the saying "made from scratch" many times in my life from living in the southern part of the United States. What is scratch in this context and how did this saying come about?
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In order to get a broader history of 'from scratch', I checked the PhraseDoctor. He writes for "start from scratch":
For the term made from scratch, this blog writes:
As the other two answers mention, "scratch" refers to sporting events. However, it was first used in terms of boxing and cricket after which the term was applied to races.
It appears the term "from scratch" can be earliest derived from foot races, followed by other sporting events. Where the starting line was literally scratched onto the ground. There is even mention of it being use as a term in for a golfer who does not have a handicap. Eventually "from scratch" took on the meaning "from nothing". Hence cooking from scratch meaning to start with basic pantry items, and not to use premixed goods.
As TXChetG says it's from the line at the start of the race - but how you get to "made from scratch isn't so clear"
Coming upto scratch - means coming to the starting point of the race, is clear enough.
"Starting from scratch" means you begin at the starting line, and you don't have an advantage (or handicap) by starting ahead of the other runners. From this sense of "starting at the very beginning" we get "made from scratch" to mean made from the most elementary starting materials
I can't cite this but I have heeard people refer to "from scratch of your ear" meaning from the point that you scratch your head to think about/plan the project you're about to undertake.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Jan 23 '14 at 12:59
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