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itch +‎ -y



itchy (comparative itchier, superlative itchiest)

  1. (of a condition) Characterized by itching.
    Synonym: pruritic
    an itchy rash
    • 1785, William Cowper, The Task, London: J. Johnson, Book 4, p. 167,[2]
      Excess, the scrophulous and itchy plague / That seizes first the opulent
    • 1987, Toni Morrison, Beloved, New York: Knopf, Part 3, p. 243,[3]
      Her heart kicked and an itchy burning in her throat made her swallow all her saliva away.
  2. (of a person, animal or body part) Feeling an itching sensation; feeling a need to be scratched.
    My nose always gets itchy the moment I put on my face mask.
    • 1659, Lyon Freeman, The Common-wealths Catechism, London: John Clowes, pp. 15-16,[4]
      Q. What do you mean by a natural, but sickly delight?
      A. I mean such a delight as Itchie people have to scratch, green-sickness Garles to eat coles and chalk, and those in a burning Fever, to drink cold drink.
    • 1869, John Tyndall, “Odds and Ends of Alpine Life,” Littel’s Living Age, Series 4, Vol. 13, No. 1303, p. 471,[5]
      I heard the trumpet of its famous mosquito, but did not feel its attacks; still the itchy hillocks on my hands for some days afterwards reported the venom of the insect.
    • 2009, Tash Aw, Map of the Invisible World, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2010, Chapter 34, p. 314,[6]
      [] the hot, dusty air swept in through the open windows and made Adam’s eyes itchy and teary.
  3. Causing an itching sensation.
    Synonym: scratchy
    He refuses to wear the new sweater; he says it’s itchy.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Chapter 1, p. 4,[7]
      the itchy sound, the brisk and scratchy sound, of combing hairs out of a stiff brush
    • 1958, Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Penguin, 1961, p. 9,[8]
      It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a train.
    • 1973, Maria Campbell, Halfbreed, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Chapter 5, p. 44,[9]
      I remember only the ugly black stockings, woolly and very itchy, and the little red tam I had to wear and how much I hated it.
  4. (figuratively) In a state of agitation; easily alarmed.
    Synonyms: anxious, jittery, jumpy, nervous, on edge
    • 1939, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, New York: Viking, 1958, Chapter 26, p. 526,[10]
      Casy said softly, “All of ’em’s itchy. Them cops been sayin’ how they’re gonna beat the hell outa us an’ run us outa the county. []
    • 1966, Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Chapter 16, in Worlds of If, Volume 16, No. 1, Issue 98, January, 1966, p. 77,[11]
      [] I got itchy wondering whether I could go inside Complex without being nabbed.
    • 1988, Edmund White, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, London: Pan Books, Chapter 4, p. 87,[12]
      At first I’d feel lonely, afraid, itchy, very afraid to go on with my story, afraid it wasn’t any good, afraid it was terrific and I was about to spoil it, afraid it was better than I understood and I would never know how to equal it again []
    • 2003, Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved, London: Hodder & Stoughton, Part 1, p. 89,[13]
      Chasing after the stories about those girls in the ward made me itchy and restless.
  5. (figuratively) Having a constant, teasing desire (for something, to do something); impatiently eager.
    Synonym: itching
    • 1876, Robert Browning, Pacchiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper, Boston: James R. Osgood, 1877, p. 17,[14]
      Who simply stares and listens / Tongue-tied, while eye nor glistens / Nor brow grows hot and twitchy, / Nor mouth, for a combat itchy, / Quivers with some convincing / Reply
    • 1939, Raymond Chandler, Trouble Is My Business, Philadelphia: Curtis Publishing, Chapter 7,[15]
      “So I went over to see Miss Huntress and after a lot of finagling around with this itchy-handed house dick I got to see her and we had a chat []
    • 1982, Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, New York: Knopf, 1989, Chapter 10, p. 282,[16]
      By now, Pearl would have been out the door and halfway down the steps, reaching for the three of them with those eager, itchy fingers of hers.
    • 2014, Ana Castillo, Give It to Me, New York: Feminist Press, Part 1, Chapter 14, p. 60,[17]
      She’d forgotten about the box [] . Not until Palma was home did she start getting itchy to open it before Christmas, but in the end she put it away unopened.
  6. (figuratively) Causing a constant, teasing desire for something.
    • 1923, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Flaming Youth, New York: Boni and Liveright, Chapter 12, p. 129,[18]
      They are curious with the itchy curiosity of their explorative time of life, and they have no proper guidance.
    • 1951, William Styron, Lie Down in Darkness, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, Chapter 6, pp. 309-310,[19]
      A bachelor at sixty-eight and an uneasy drinker, Holcomb was seized with an itchy, reminiscent lust whenever he drank too much []
    • 2016, Joe Okonkwo, Jazz Moon, New York: Kensington, Chapter 41,
      With peace gone he was left with plain old boredom, and not the clean kind. But the itchy, restless kind that begged to be filled.
  7. (figuratively, derogatory, obsolete) Feeling or showing a high level of sexual interest.[1]
    Synonyms: lascivious, lecherous, lustful
    • c. 1623, Thomas Middleton, The Spanish Gypsy, London: Richard Marriot, 1653, Act 4,[20]
      Car[dochia]. That slave in obsceane Language courted me. / Drew Rialls out, and would have bought my body / Diego from thee!
      Die[go]. Is hee so Itchy? I’le cure him.
    • 1640, Nathanael Richards, Messallina, London: Daniel Frere, Act I, Scene 1,[21]
      what’s all the delight, / That seemes so pleasing to the itchie whorer?

Derived terms[edit]


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  1. ^ Josua Poole, The English Parnassus, London: Thomas Johnson, 1657, p. 223.[1]