in one's tracks, Informal. in the spot in which one is or is standing at the moment: He stopped dead in his tracks, listening for the sound to be repeated.
    keep track, to be aware; keep informed: Have you been keeping track of the time?
    lose track, to fail to keep informed; neglect to keep a record: He soon lost track of how much money he had spent.
    make tracks, Informal. to go or depart in a hurry: to make tracks for the store before closing time.
    off the track, departing from the objective or the subject at hand; astray: He can't tell a story without getting off the track.
    on the track of, in search or pursuit of; close upon: They are on the track of a solution to the problem.
    on the wrong/right side of the tracks, from a poor or wealthy part of a community or of society: born on the wrong side of the tracks.

Origin of track

1425–75; late Middle English trak (noun) < Middle French trac, perhaps < Old Norse trathk trodden spot; compare Norwegian trakke to trample; akin to tread
Related formstrack·a·ble, adjectivetrack·a·bil·i·ty, nountrack·er, nounmul·ti·track, verb (used with object)re·track, verbun·track·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedtack tact track tract

Synonyms for track Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in one's tracks



the mark or trail left by something that has passed bythe track of an animal
any road or path affording passage, esp a rough one
a rail or pair of parallel rails on which a vehicle, such as a locomotive, runs, esp the rails together with the sleepers, ballast, etc, on a railway
a course of action, thought, etcdon't start on that track again!
a line of motion or travel, such as flight
an endless jointed metal band driven by the wheels of a vehicle such as a tank or tractor to enable it to move across rough or muddy ground
physics the path of a particle of ionizing radiation as observed in a cloud chamber, bubble chamber, or photographic emulsion
  1. a course for running or racing
  2. (as modifier)track events
US and Canadian
  1. sports performed on a track
  2. track and field events as a whole
a path on a magnetic recording medium, esp magnetic tape, on which information, such as music or speech, from a single input channel is recorded
any of a number of separate sections in the recording on a record, CD, or cassette
a metal path that makes the interconnections on an integrated circuit
the distance between the points of contact with the ground of a pair of wheels, such as the front wheels of a motor vehicle or the paired wheels of an aircraft undercarriage
a hypothetical trace made on the surface of the earth by a point directly below an aircraft in flight
keep track of to follow the passage, course, or progress of
lose track of to fail to follow the passage, course, or progress of
off the beaten track See beaten (def. 4)
off the track away from what is correct or true
on the track of on the scent or trail of; pursuing
the right track the correct line of investigation, inquiry, etc
the wrong track the incorrect line of investigation, inquiry, etc


to follow the trail of (a person, animal, etc)
to follow the flight path of (a satellite, spacecraft, etc) by picking up radio or radar signals transmitted or reflected by it
US railways
  1. to provide with a track
  2. to run on a track of (a certain width)
(of a camera or camera operator) to follow (a moving object) in any direction while operating
to move (a camera) towards the scene (track in) or away from the scene (track out)
to follow a track through (a place)to track the jungles
(intr) (of the pick-up, stylus, etc, of a record player) to follow the groove of a recordthe pick-up tracks badly
See also tracks
Derived Formstrackable, adjectivetracker, noun

Word Origin for track

C15: from Old French trac, probably of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch tracken to pull, Middle Low German trecken; compare Norwegian trakke to trample
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

Word Origin and History for in one's tracks



late 15c., "footprint, mark left by anything," from Old French trac "track of horses, trace" (mid-15c.), possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Middle Low German treck, Dutch trek "drawing, pulling;" see trek). Meaning "lines of rails for drawing trains" is from 1805. Meaning "branch of athletics involving a running track" is recorded from 1905. Meaning "single recorded item" is from 1904, originally in reference to phonograph records. Meaning "mark on skin from repeated drug injection" is first attested 1964.

Track record (1955) is a figurative use from racing, "performance history" of an individual car, runner, horse, etc.(1907, but the phrase was more common in sense "fastest speed recorded at a particular track"). To make tracks "move quickly" is American English colloquial first recorded 1835; to cover (one's) tracks in the figurative sense first attested 1898; to keep track of something is attested from 1883. American English wrong side of the tracks "bad part of town" is by 1901. Track lighting attested from 1970.



"to follow or trace the footsteps of," 1560s, from track (n.). Related: Tracked; tracking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with in one's tracks

in one's tracks

see drop in one's tracks; follow in one's tracks; stop cold (dead in one's tracks).


In addition to the idioms beginning with track

  • track down
  • track record

also see:

  • cover one's tracks
  • drop in one's tracks
  • fast track
  • follow in someone's footsteps (tracks)
  • inside track
  • jump the track
  • keep (lose) track
  • make tracks
  • off the beaten track
  • off the track
  • one-track mind
  • on the right tack (track)
  • right side of the tracks
  • stop cold (in one's tracks)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.