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QUICK QUOTE

Idiom

Not up to Scratch: Origin and Meaning

Meaning
Inadequate; not of an acceptable standard or quality.
Origin
Not up to scratchThis idiom originates from early boxing matches when the sport was not very popular. At this time, the referee would draw a line called the “scratch” in the centre of the ring. If a contestant was knocked down, he had to stand up and walk to the line within a certain time limit before the match could continue. If he could not do this, it was said that he was “not up to the scratch” and his opponent would win the fight.
Examples
“Claire went out last night instead of spending time working so I’m not surprised that her essay was not up to scratch.”

“We gave you 6 months to work with the football team. Why are they still not up to scratch?”

Greg: “How are the new staff members?”
Billy: “Most of them are doing well but there is one that’s not up to scratch. I’m giving him one more week to improve but then I might need to fire him.”

Can also be used in the positive form “up to scratch

“I heard that the government is investing millions into education to bring schools up to scratch.”
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