Posted by R. Berg on March 22, 2006
In Reply to: Scratch paper posted by Brian from Shawnee on March 21, 2006
: : : : origin behind scratch paper
: : : I don't know who coined the phrase "scratch paper", but possibly you want to know why it's called that. Some form of "cratch" or "scratch marks "has long been used for hand-writing. The word "scratch" has also been used slangily for casually putting words on paper that one doesn't necessarily intend to preserve, "jotting" notes, scratching out one's thoughts in a casual manner. So the appropriate paper for that is paper you don't intend to use for anything else, such as paper of poor quality, or paper that has become smudged or dog-eared or partially used before. Scratch pads are sometimes sold for the purpose of those who like to do their scratching on small and handy pieces of paper. Nowadays surplus copies of material emanating from copy machines are useful as scratch paper. SS
: : "The word "cratch" is not some bizarre adjective applied to bad hand-writing, just a typo for "scratch." .SS.
: This naturally leads to the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the scratch? Back in the day, meaning the mid-1960's and probably much earlier, there were some public school teachers who seemed fond of criticizing some students' handwriting as "chicken scratch", meaning the work looked less like handwriting than random scratches made by a chicken. I wonder if the term "scratch paper" was coined by those teachers.
"Scratch paper" is older than that. The mid-60s may be back in YOUR day, but on my timeline they're not so far back.