[ treys ]
See synonyms for: tracetracedtracestracing on

  1. a surviving mark, sign, or evidence of the former existence, influence, or action of some agent or event; vestige: traces of an advanced civilization among the ruins.

  2. a barely discernible indication or evidence of some quantity, quality, characteristic, expression, etc.: a trace of anger in his tone.

  1. an extremely small amount of some chemical component: a trace of copper in its composition.

  2. traces, the series of footprints left by an animal.

  3. the track left by the passage of a person, animal, or object: the trace of her skates on the ice.

  4. Meteorology. precipitation of less than 0.005 inch (0.127 millimeter).

  5. a trail or path, especially through wild or open territory, made by the passage of people, animals, or vehicles.

  6. a tracing, drawing, or sketch of something.

  7. a lightly drawn line, as the record drawn by a self-registering instrument.

  8. Mathematics.

    • the intersection of two planes, or of a plane and a surface.

    • the sum of the elements along the principal diagonal of a square matrix.

    • the geometric locus of an equation.

  9. the visible line or lines produced on the screen of a cathode-ray tube by the deflection of the electron beam.

  10. Linguistics. (in generative grammar) a construct that is phonologically empty but serves to mark the place in the surface structure of a sentence from which a noun phrase has been moved by a transformational operation.

  11. Obsolete. a footprint.

verb (used with object),traced, trac·ing.
  1. to follow the footprints, track, or traces of.

  2. to follow, make out, or determine the course or line of, especially by going backward from the latest evidence, nearest existence, etc.: to trace one's ancestry to the Pilgrims.

  1. to follow (footprints, evidence, the history or course of something, etc.).

  2. to follow the course, development, or history of: to trace a political movement.

  3. to ascertain by investigation; find out; discover: The police were unable to trace his whereabouts.

  4. to draw (a line, outline, figure, etc.).

  5. to make a plan, diagram, or map of.

  6. to copy (a drawing, plan, etc.) by following the lines of the original on a superimposed transparent sheet.

  7. to mark or ornament with lines, figures, etc.

  8. to make an impression or imprinting of (a design, pattern, etc.).

  9. (of a self-registering instrument) to print in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.

  10. to put down in writing.

verb (used without object),traced, trac·ing.
  1. to go back in history, ancestry, or origin; date back in time: Her family traces back to Paul Revere.

  2. to follow a course, trail, etc.; make one's way.

  1. (of a self-registering instrument) to print a record in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.

Origin of trace

First recorded in 1400–50; Middle English verb trace(n), trase(n) “to make one's way, proceed, move along a set course,” from Old French tra(i)cier, traser, from unattested Vulgar Latin tractiāre, derivative of Latin tractus, past participle of trahere “to draw, drag”; Middle English noun trace tras(e) “way, course, line of footprints, track, trail,” from Old French, derivative of tracier

synonym study For trace

1. Trace, vestige agree in denoting marks or signs of something, usually of the past. Trace , the broader term, denotes any mark or slight indication of something past or present: a trace of ammonia in water. Vestige is more limited and refers to some slight, though actual, remains of something that no longer exists: vestiges of one's former wealth.

Other words for trace

Opposites for trace

Other words from trace

  • un·traced, adjective

Other definitions for trace (2 of 2)

[ treys ]

  1. 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.

  2. a piece in a machine, as a bar, transferring the movement of one part to another part, being hinged to each.

Origin of trace

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English trais(e), traice, from Old French trais, tres, plural of trait “harness strap, action of drawing,” from Latin tractus “a drawing, dragging”; see origin at tract1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use trace in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for trace (1 of 2)


/ (treɪs) /

  1. a mark or other sign that something has been in a place; vestige

  2. a tiny or scarcely detectable amount or characteristic

  1. a footprint or other indication of the passage of an animal or person

  2. any line drawn by a recording instrument or a record consisting of a number of such lines

  3. something drawn, such as a tracing

  4. mainly US a beaten track or path

  5. 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

  6. geometry the intersection of a surface with a coordinate plane

  7. maths the sum of the diagonal entries of a square matrix

  8. 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

  9. meteorol an amount of precipitation that is too small to be measured

  10. archaic a way taken; route

  1. (tr) to follow, discover, or ascertain the course or development of (something): to trace the history of China

  2. (tr) to track down and find, as by following a trail

  1. to copy (a design, map, etc) by drawing over the lines visible through a superimposed sheet of transparent paper or other material

  2. (tr often foll by out)

    • to draw or delineate a plan or diagram of: she spent hours tracing the models one at a time

    • to outline or sketch (an idea, policy, etc): he traced out his scheme for the robbery

  3. (tr) to decorate with tracery

  4. (tr) to imprint (a design) on cloth, etc

  5. (usually foll by back) to follow or be followed to source; date back: his ancestors trace back to the 16th century

  6. archaic to make one's way over, through, or along (something)

Origin of trace

C13: from French tracier, from Vulgar Latin tractiāre (unattested) to drag, from Latin tractus, from trahere to drag

Derived forms of trace

  • traceable, adjective
  • traceability or traceableness, noun
  • traceably, adverb
  • traceless, adjective
  • tracelessly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for trace (2 of 2)


/ (treɪs) /

  1. either of the two side straps that connect a horse's harness to the swingletree

  2. angling a length of nylon or, formerly, gut attaching a hook or fly to a line

  1. kick over the traces to escape or defy control

Origin of trace

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