start from scratch

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start from scratch

To begin from the very beginning without the aid or advantage of something that is already prepared or completed. A noun or pronoun can be used between "start" and "from." The folder with my outline and notes got deleted, so now I have to start the whole project again from scratch. We don't have time to start from scratch, so let's just use some cake mix from a box.
See also: scratch, start

start from scratch

to start from the very beginning; to start from nothing. Whenever I bake a cake, I start from scratch. I never use a cake mix in a box. I built every bit of my own house. I started from scratch and did everything with my own hands.
See also: scratch, start

start from scratch, to

To begin from nothing at all, without having a head start or some other advantage. This term comes from racing, where a horse or runner is said to start from scratch when starting from the usual point—that is, the line “scratched” (marked) on the course—while others may be starting ahead with a handicap. The term was transferred to other bare beginnings by the twentieth century. George Orwell used it in Coming Up for Air (1939): “We’d no fishing tackle of any kind. . . . We had to start from scratch.”
See also: start

start from scratch

Start at the beginning with no advantage. The scratch line was a stripe across the ground where a race began. Starting from scratch meant having no advantage against others in the race where handicaps allowed some entrants shorter distances to run.
See also: scratch, start