Up to scratch

Up to scratch is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom up to scratch, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Up to scratch describes someone who is fit or healthy, someone or something that can meet certain requirements, someone or something that is satisfactory. The negative form, not up to scratch, means that someone or something is not fit. The phrase up to scratch appeared sometime in the mid-1800s, and originated in the sport of boxing. When boxing was bare-knuckled, the opponents were required to stand with their toes against a scratch in the ground at the start of every round. If a fighter was fit enough to stand at his assigned place at the beginning of a round, then he was up to scratch. If not, he was not up to scratch.

Examples

World Rugby issued a statement on Tuesday conceding that the officiating over the first weekend of the World Cup was not up to scratch and promising it would improve. (Reuters)

The MLA has stressed the importance of homeowners making sure their security is up to scratch. (The Sun)

Villeroy, who heads the French central bank, questioned last week whether professional standards were up to scratch, which is we think a legitimate gripe for such a new market. (The Financial Times)

A draft improvement plan designed to help bring West Sussex County Council’s ‘inadequate’ children’s services up to scratch has been given the nod by a scrutiny committee. (The Chichester Observer)

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