come up to scratch(redirected from to come up to scratch)
come up to scratch
To be or become as good as what was expected, required, or demanded; to become satisfactory or adequate. Often used in negative constructions. Sarah, the new assistant you hired is dreadful. If he doesn't come up to scratch soon, he'll need to be replaced. I'm afraid your last report didn't come up to scratch. You'll need to start doing a lot better.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
up to scratch, (to come/be)
An adequate performance; satisfactory. The word “scratch” alludes to a line or mark used in several sports (see also start from scratch). In early nineteenth-century boxing a rule was introduced that after a knockdown and a thirty-second wait, a fighter had eight seconds to make his way to a mark scratched in the center of the ring; if he could not do so without help, he was considered defeated. The term was used literally by William Hazlitt in an 1822 essay on boxing and began to be used figuratively about the same time. George Orwell had it in Burmese Days (1934): “If they won’t come up to scratch you can always get hold of the ringleaders and give them a good bambooing.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer