Context: The current knowledge of the abundance pattern in delta Scuti stars is based on analysis of just a few field stars.
Aims: We aim to determine the general chemical properties of the atmospheres of delta Scuti stars based on a statistically relevant sample of stars and investigate whether the abundance pattern is close to solar, an assumption generally made for pulsation models.
Methods: We analysed high-resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio spectra of seven field delta Scuti stars. We derived the fundamental parameters and the photospheric abundances and than compared them to a similar sample of cluster delta Scuti stars.
Results: With the use of a t-test we demonstrate that there is no difference between the two samples, which allows us to merge them, resulting in a sample of fifteen delta Scuti stars. We do not find any substantial difference between the abundance pattern of our sample of delta Scuti stars and a sample of normal early A- and late F-type stars. One field star in our sample, HD 124953, is most likely a pulsating Am star.