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.
a barely discernible indication or evidence of some quantity, quality, characteristic, expression, etc.: a trace of anger in his tone.
an extremely small amount of some chemical component: a trace of copper in its composition.
traces, the series of footprints left by an animal.
the track left by the passage of a person, animal, or object: the trace of her skates on the ice.
Meteorology. precipitation of less than 0.005 inch (0.127 millimeter).
a trail or path, especially through wild or open territory, made by the passage of people, animals, or vehicles.
a tracing, drawing, or sketch of something.
a lightly drawn line, as the record drawn by a self-registering instrument.
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.
the visible line or lines produced on the screen of a cathode-ray tube by the deflection of the electron beam.
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.
Obsolete. a footprint.
to follow the footprints, track, or traces of.
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.
to follow (footprints, evidence, the history or course of something, etc.).
to follow the course, development, or history of: to trace a political movement.
to draw (a line, outline, figure, etc.).
to make a plan, diagram, or map of.
to copy (a drawing, plan, etc.) by following the lines of the original on a superimposed transparent sheet.
to mark or ornament with lines, figures, etc.
to make an impression or imprinting of (a design, pattern, etc.).
(of a self-registering instrument) to print in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.
to put down in writing.
to go back in history, ancestry, or origin; date back in time: Her family traces back to Paul Revere.
to follow a course, trail, etc.; make one's way.
(of a self-registering instrument) to print a record in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.
- un·traced, adjective
Other definitions for trace (2 of 2)
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use trace in a sentence
SpaceX investigated the issue and found that it was due to some trace amounts of a masking material used to protect engine components making their way into fuel lines.SpaceX successfully launches GPS III space vehicle for the US Space Force | Darrell Etherington | November 5, 2020 | TechCrunch
Its pulsating motion effectively removes traces of makeup, dirt, and oil better than fingertips.Gift Guide: The best beauty and wellness presents of 2020 | Rachel King | November 1, 2020 | Fortune
After a few hard winters, most of the settlers fled and left almost no trace.
“The cold traps in these permanent shadows are sort of like garbage collectors,” Haynes says, and every time someone lands on the Moon these pockets become slightly contaminated with traces of human presence like rocket fuel.New 3D moon models show it might hold up to 15,000 miles of frozen water | Kat Eschner | October 27, 2020 | Popular-Science
All sorts of things have happened that have left sort of smell traces.Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog (Ep. 436) | Stephen J. Dubner | October 22, 2020 | Freakonomics
But then, if a clear line of causality could be traced, we wouldn't be talking about Palmer.
The majority of the early cases were traced back to unsanitary needles.
But ProPublica traced the photograph back to a stock photo company called StockTrek Images.Exclusive: ‘Pro-Troop’ Charity Pays Off Tea Party Cronies Instead | Kim Barker | August 5, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
But much can be traced to the expansion of regulatory power.Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1% | Joel Kotkin | June 28, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The historians involved have traced the cup back to King Fernando I of Spain (1037-1065).Spain’s New ‘Holy Grail’: Jesus Couldn’t Afford That Kind of Bling | Candida Moss | April 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Idly his pen traced upon the paper in front of him a large X, the sign of the unknown quantity.Uncanny Tales | Various
The general traced two lines on the dusty earth, about eight feet apart.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3) | Charles James Wills
The execution is such that the drawing of the gown and the lines of the face seem to have been traced by an engraver's tool.Bastien Lepage | Fr. Crastre
There he had been watching his movements, and traced him, with dreadful suspicion, to the house of Vanboeren.Checkmate | Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The sound holes may have been traced down and even the upper and lower circular holes bored.Antonio Stradivari | Horace William Petherick
British Dictionary definitions for trace (1 of 2)
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
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
(tr) to follow, discover, or ascertain the course or development of (something): to trace the history of China
(tr) 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
(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
(tr) to decorate with tracery
(tr) 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)
- traceable, adjective
- traceability or traceableness, noun
- traceably, adverb
- traceless, adjective
- tracelessly, adverb
British Dictionary definitions for trace (2 of 2)
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
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