When removing the top layer of something or when cleaning the surface of something, you can use the verb "scrape."

  • Scrape your plate before you put it in the dishwasher. (This sentence is in the imperative form. The subject is "you.)
  • You have to scrape ice off of your windshield in the winter if you live in a cold, northern state like Minnesota.
  • Jennifer scraped her knees when she fell, but she’s okay. (This is a popular word to use for accidents and injuries.)
  • Some paint was scraped off of the side of my car when another car hit it in the parking lot.

scrape He’s scraping ice off the windshield.

You can also use "scrape" as a noun:

  • Jennifer’s okay. It’s just a scrape. (This is a type of injury. If a person falls down and skin is removed as a result of the fall–but there’s very little blood–we call this "a scrape.")
  • Kevin got into a scrape with the law. (He did something bad, but it wasn’t too serious.)
  • My car has a big scrape on the side of it.

The idiom "scrape by" is used when someone is having financial difficulties:

  • They’re barely scraping by on one income.
  • I think we’ll have enough money to scrape by this month.

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This page was first published on December 16, 2011.

It was amended on December 21, 2014.