Hosted by: Cynthia Swanson & Andrew Swanson

What does “Start from Scratch” Really Mean?

A colleage at the day job asked me yesterday why we use the term “start from scratch”. I didn’t know, so I threw out some offhand suggestions.  But it lingered with me, so today I did a web search.  Below is from

Start From Scratch


Begin (again) from the beginning, embark on something without any preparation or advantage.


‘Start from scratch’ is an expression which has altered slightly in meaning since it was first coined. It is now usually used to mean ‘start again from the beginning’ – where an initial attempt has failed and a new attempt is made with nothing of value carried forward from the first attempt (as opposed to ‘made from scratch’ which means ‘made from basic ingredients’).

In the late 1800s, when ‘start from scratch’ began to be used it simply meant ‘start with no advantage’. ‘Scratch’ has been used since the 18th century as a sporting term for a boundary or starting point which was scratched on the ground. The first such scratch was the crease which is a boundary line for batsmen in cricket.

If you want to learn more about how “start from scratch” became a part of today’s vernacular, then visit one of the following websites:

Categories: Random Thoughts

1 reply

  1. Awesome Cynthia, thanks!!

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