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back +‎ scratch


backscratch (plural backscratches)

  1. A scratch on the back.
    • 1931, The Mines Magazine, volume 21, page 9:
      Several Colorado papers have reproduced the substance of our articles on silver, and we thank them for their backscratches.
    • 1989, Common Lives, Lesbian Lives, number 29-32, page 20:
      Backscratches keep improving but the itch increases.
    • 2011, Denise Giardina, The Unquiet Earth: A Novel:
      I had to admit he had nice fingernails and a backscratch would have felt just fine.
    • 2013, Ben Undelson, Fiction. A Nostalgic Guide to Growing up with the WWF[1]:
      Series of clotheslines no-sold, so Haku tries backscratches, and, interestingly, that finally works.


backscratch (third-person singular simple present backscratches, present participle backscratching, simple past and past participle backscratched)

  1. To scratch one's or another's back.
    • 1984, Michael D. Powers, Behavioral Assessment of Severe Developmental Disabilities:
      He enjoyed being hugged, backscratched, and tickled and sat quietly next to the examiner after testing while a parental interview was conducted.
    • 1995, Stephen R. Kellert, The Biophilia Hypothesis, page 397:
      So it is to the mutual advantage of social primates to backscratch for each other.
    • 2000, David Michael Jacobs, UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge, page 190:
      [] primate's inclination to backscratch and delouse rather than venture into the dangerous country beyond familiar tramping grounds.
  2. (business, politics, slang) To engage in a reciprocal action.
    • 2003, Ralph Steadman, Doodaaa: The Balletic Art of Gavin Twinge[2], page 105:
      It was backscratched into existence, cost nearly a billion pounds, and now they are wondering why they let it happen.
    • 2008, Nicholas Fearn, The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions[3]:
      The fount of social problems, he argues, is that human morality grew out of the natural principles of tit-for-tat and mutual backscratching.
    • 2007, Jeffrey M. Elliot, The Presidential-Congressional Political Dictionary[4], page 178:
      Whether referred to as bargaining, logrolling, or backscratching, the effect is the same: "you support me, I'll support you."


See also[edit]