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[treys] /treɪs/
either of the two straps, ropes, or chains by which a carriage, wagon, or the like is drawn by a harnessed horse or other draft animal.
a piece in a machine, as a bar, transferring the movement of one part to another part, being hinged to each.
kick over the traces, to throw off restraint; become independent or defiant:
He kicked over the traces and ran off to join the navy.
Origin of trace2
1300-50; Middle English trais < Middle French, plural of trait strap for harness, action of drawing < Latin tractus a drawing, dragging; see tract1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for kick over the traces


a mark or other sign that something has been in a place; vestige
a tiny or scarcely detectable amount or characteristic
a footprint or other indication of the passage of an animal or person
any line drawn by a recording instrument or a record consisting of a number of such lines
something drawn, such as a tracing
(mainly US) a beaten track or path
the postulated alteration in the cells of the nervous system that occurs as the result of any experience or learning See also memory trace, engram
(geometry) the intersection of a surface with a coordinate plane
(maths) the sum of the diagonal entries of a square matrix
(linguistics) a symbol inserted in the constituent structure of a sentence to mark the position from which a constituent has been moved in a generative process
(meteorol) an amount of precipitation that is too small to be measured
(archaic) a way taken; route
(transitive) to follow, discover, or ascertain the course or development of (something): to trace the history of China
(transitive) to track down and find, as by following a trail
to copy (a design, map, etc) by drawing over the lines visible through a superimposed sheet of transparent paper or other material
(transitive) often foll by out
  1. to draw or delineate a plan or diagram of: she spent hours tracing the models one at a time
  2. to outline or sketch (an idea, policy, etc): he traced out his scheme for the robbery
(transitive) to decorate with tracery
(transitive) to imprint (a design) on cloth, etc
(usually foll by back) to follow or be followed to source; date back: his ancestors trace back to the 16th century
(archaic) to make one's way over, through, or along (something)
Derived Forms
traceable, adjective
traceability, traceableness, noun
traceably, adverb
traceless, adjective
tracelessly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from French tracier, from Vulgar Latin tractiāre (unattested) to drag, from Latin tractus, from trahere to drag


either of the two side straps that connect a horse's harness to the swingletree
(angling) a length of nylon or, formerly, gut attaching a hook or fly to a line
kick over the traces, to escape or defy control
Word Origin
C14 trais, from Old French trait, ultimately from Latin trahere to drag
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kick over the traces



late 14c., "to make a plan or diagram," from Old French trasser "delineate, score, trace, follow, pursue" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *tractiare "delineate, score, trace" (cf. Spanish trazar "to trace, devise, plan out," Italian tracciare "to follow by foot"), from Latin tractus "track, course," literally "a drawing out," from past participle stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Meaning "to pass over" (a path, etc.) is attested from late 14c.; that of "track down, follow the trail of" is early 15c., from trace (n.1). Sense of "draw an outline of" is first recorded late 14c. Meaning "copy a drawing on a transparent sheet laid over it" is recorded from 1762. Related: Traced; tracing.


"track made by passage of a person or thing," mid-13c., from Old French trace, back-formation from tracier (see trace (v.)). Scientific sense of "indication of minute presence in some chemical compound" is from 1827. Traces "vestiges" is from c.1400.

"straps or chains by which an animal pulls a vehicle," c.1300, from earlier collective plural trays, from Old French traiz, plural of trait "strap for harnessing, act of drawing," from Latin tractus "a drawing, track," from stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with kick over the traces

kick over the traces

Break loose from restraint, misbehave. For example, There's always one child who'll kick over the traces as soon as the bell rings. This metaphoric expression alludes to the straps attaching a horse to a vehicle, which the animal sometimes gets a leg over in order to kick more freely and thereby refuse to move forward. [ Mid-1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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