Scratch and itch. Itch and scratch. Reminds me of the cartoon, “The Itchy and Scratchy Show.” You know the one…it’s a blue mouse, Itchy, who repeatedly kills a black cat, Scratchy – all part of the Simpson conglomerate. Sort of a violent spoof on the Tom & Jerry cartoon.Now, this post isn’t about the show, although sometimes I’d like to bash a person over the head who uses the words itch and scratch incorrectly (you know who you are). I’m sure everyone has their pet peeves about certain words and when you hear them or read them used in the wrong context, it makes you want to scream. Itch and scratch are one of mine.
Let’s start with the definitions just to make things clear.
Itch – (verb) to have or feel a peculiar tingling or uneasy irritation of the skin that causes a desire to scratch the part affected: My nose itches.
Scratch – (verb) to relieve itching by rubbing or scraping lightly, as with the fingernails: I scratched my itchy nose.
Do you see the difference? You scratch an itch. You don’t itch a scratch. And you don’t itch an itch. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many people interchange these words. I also often hear “Can you itch my back for me?” or something along those lines. Um…doesn’t your back itch already? Why would you want me to make it itch more? Whereas it should be, “Can you scratch my itch for me?”
Another one for me? Espresso. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it pronounced E-X-presso. Folks, there is no X in espresso! It’s an “S.” So pronounce it with an “S.” Drives me bonkers.
What words make you cringe when you hear people using or writing the wrong one? What do you think are some of the most commonly misused English words?