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[ri-treys] /rɪˈtreɪs/
verb (used with object), retraced, retracing.
to trace backward; go back over:
to retrace one's steps.
to go back over with the memory.
to go over again with the sight or attention.
Origin of retrace
1690-1700; < French retracer, Middle French retracier, equivalent to re- re- + tracier to trace1
Related forms
retraceable, adjective
retracement, noun
nonretraceable, adjective


[ree-treys] /riˈtreɪs/
verb (used with object), re-traced, re-tracing.
to trace again, as lines in writing or drawing.
Also, retrace.
First recorded in 1750-60; re- + trace1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for retrace
Historical Examples
  • But he did not retrace his steps in order to remonstrate with her severely in the street.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • With what emotions would she trace and retrace her own eventful story!

  • I knew it must be near noontime, so I began to retrace my way.

  • They turned, and with Sim between them Ralph and Rotha began to retrace their steps.

  • Yoga Rama repeatedly asked me to trace and retrace all the letters of the name.

    Telepathy W. W. Baggally
  • I watched him go up to the letter-box and then retrace his steps.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • Mrs. Travers let fall her arm and began to retrace her steps, unsupported and alone.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • If not, there appears to be nothing for it, but to retrace your steps whence you came.

  • So she turned and began to retrace her steps—the two gentlemen accompanying her.

    Rollo in Holland Jacob Abbott
  • Kagh had not gone far when some whim caused him to turn about as if to retrace his steps.

British Dictionary definitions for retrace


verb (transitive)
to go back over (one's steps, a route, etc) again: we retraced the route we took last summer
to go over (a past event) in the mind; recall
to go over (a story, account, etc) from the beginning
Derived Forms
retraceable, adjective
retracement, noun


(transitive) to trace (a map, drawing, etc) again
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 retrace

1690s, from French retracer "to trace again," from Middle French retracier, from re- "again" (see re-) + tracier "to trace" (see trace (v.)). Related: Retraced; retracing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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