from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A visible mark, such as a footprint, made or left by the passage of a person, animal, or thing.
  • n. Evidence or an indication of the former presence or existence of something; a vestige.
  • n. A barely perceivable indication; a touch: spoke with a trace of sarcasm.
  • n. An extremely small amount.
  • n. A constituent, such as a chemical compound or element, present in quantities less than a standard limit.
  • n. A path or trail that has been beaten out by the passage of animals or people.
  • n. A way or route followed.
  • n. A line drawn by a recording instrument, such as a cardiograph.
  • n. Mathematics The point at which a line, or the curve in which a surface, intersects a coordinate plane.
  • n. Mathematics The sum of the elements of the principal diagonal of a matrix.
  • n. An engram.
  • transitive v. To follow the course or trail of: trace a wounded deer; tracing missing persons.
  • transitive v. To ascertain the successive stages in the development or progress of: tracing the life cycle of an insect; trace the history of a family.
  • transitive v. To locate or discover by searching or researching evidence: trace the cause of a disease.
  • transitive v. To draw (a line or figure); sketch; delineate.
  • transitive v. To form (letters) with special concentration or care.
  • transitive v. To copy by following lines seen through a sheet of transparent paper.
  • transitive v. To follow closely (a prescribed pattern): The skater traced a figure eight.
  • transitive v. To imprint (a design) by pressure with an instrument on a superimposed pattern.
  • transitive v. To make a design or series of markings on (a surface) by such pressure on a pattern.
  • transitive v. To record (a variable), as on a graph.
  • intransitive v. To make one's way along a trail or course: traced through the files.
  • intransitive v. To have origins; be traceable: linguistic features that trace to West Africa.
  • adj. Occurring in extremely small amounts or in quantities less than a standard limit.
  • n. One of two side straps or chains connecting a harnessed draft animal to a vehicle or whiffletree.
  • n. A bar or rod, hinged at either end to another part, that transfers movement from one part of a machine to another.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An act of tracing.
  • n. A mark left as a sign of passage of a person or animal.
  • n. A very small amount.
  • n. An electric current-carrying conductive pathway on a printed circuit board.
  • n. An informal road or prominent path in an arid area.
  • n. One of two straps, chains, or ropes of a harness, extending from the collar or breastplate to a whippletree attached to a vehicle or thing to be drawn; a tug.
  • n. The sum of the diagonal elements of a square matrix.
  • v. To follow the trail of.
  • v. To follow the history of.
  • v. To draw or sketch.
  • v. To copy onto a sheet of transparent paper.
  • v. To walk; to go; to travel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of two straps, chains, or ropes of a harness, extending from the collar or breastplate to a whiffletree attached to a vehicle or thing to be drawn; a tug.
  • n. A connecting bar or rod, pivoted at each end to the end of another piece, for transmitting motion, esp. from one plane to another; specif., such a piece in an organ-stop action to transmit motion from the trundle to the lever actuating the stop slider.
  • n. A mark left by anything passing; a track; a path; a course; a footprint; a vestige.
  • n. A very small quantity of an element or compound in a given substance, especially when so small that the amount is not quantitatively determined in an analysis; -- hence, in stating an analysis, often contracted to tr.
  • n. A mark, impression, or visible appearance of anything left when the thing itself no longer exists; remains; token; vestige.
  • n. The intersection of a plane of projection, or an original plane, with a coordinate plane.
  • n. The ground plan of a work or works.
  • intransitive v. To walk; to go; to travel.
  • transitive v. To mark out; to draw or delineate with marks; especially, to copy, as a drawing or engraving, by following the lines and marking them on a sheet superimposed, through which they appear.
  • transitive v. To follow by some mark that has been left by a person or thing which has preceded; to follow by footsteps, tracks, or tokens.
  • transitive v. Hence, to follow the trace or track of.
  • transitive v. To copy; to imitate.
  • transitive v. To walk over; to pass through; to traverse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To mark out upon the ground the lines of a field-work.
  • To draw; delineate; mark out, as on a map, chart, or plan; map out; design; sketch.
  • To write, especially by a careful or laborious formation of the letters; form in writing.
  • Specifically To copy, as a drawing or engraving, by following the lines and marking them on a superimposed sheet, through which they appear.
  • To cover with traced lines, as with writing or tracery.
  • To follow the track, trail, or path of; pursue: a general term, the verbs track and trail being more specific, as in hunting.
  • To follow the course of by observation of the remains or vestiges; ascertain the position, course, contour, etc., of by noting and following the traces that exist.
  • To observe traces or vestiges of; discover visible evidences or proofs of.
  • To follow step by step: as, to trace the development of a plot: often with up, back, out.
  • To make one's way through or along; traverse; thread; perambulate.
  • To move; go; march; make one's way; travel.
  • To step; pace; dance.
  • To hitch up; put in the traces.
  • Nautical, a form of trice.
  • n.
  • n. The original position or place of a figure after that figure has been supposed to move: thus a circle is the closed line which will slide in its trace
  • n. The intersection of a surface by a given line or surface: as, the trace of a liue is a point; the trace of a surface is a line.
  • n. In angling, a short line or a length of gut by which the hook is attached to the reel-line; a snell; a snood; a leader.
  • n. The track left by a person or an animal walking or running over the ground or other surface, as snow or the like; footprints; the track, trail, or rut left by something which is drawn along, as a cart; the marks which indicate the course pursued by any moving thing.
  • n. Hence, a track or path; a way.
  • n. A token, indication, or sign of something that has passed over or away; a mark, impression, or visible evidence of something that has occurred or existed; a vestige.
  • n. A small quantity; an insignificant proportion: as, tetradymite or telluride of bismuth usually contains traces of selenium.
  • n. Train; procession.
  • n. A step or series of steps; a measure in dancing.
  • n. In fortification, the ground-plan of a work.
  • n. In geometry, the intersection of a plane with one of the planes of projection.
  • n. The record made by a self-registering instrument.
  • n. Synonyms, , and
  • n. Trace, Vestige. Trace is much broader than vestige. A vestige is something of the nature of signs or remains, very small in amount, showing that a thing has been in a certain place: as, not a vestige of the banquet remained. Trace may have this sense of a last faint mark or sign of previous existence or action; or it may stand for a very small amount of any sort: as, a trace of earthy matter in water; or it may stand for the sign, clue, or track by which pursuit may be made: as, to get upon the trace of game or of a fugitive.
  • n. One of the two straps, ropes, or chains by which a carriage, wagon, or other vehicle is drawn by a harnessed horse or other draft-animal. See cut under harness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a visible mark (as a footprint) left by the passage of person or animal or vehicle
  • n. a just detectable amount
  • n. a suggestion of some quality
  • v. discover traces of
  • v. read with difficulty
  • v. copy by following the lines of the original drawing on a transparent sheet placed upon it; make a tracing of
  • n. either of two lines that connect a horse's harness to a wagon or other vehicle or to a whiffletree
  • v. pursue or chase relentlessly
  • v. to go back over again
  • v. follow, discover, or ascertain the course of development of something
  • n. an indication that something has been present
  • v. make one's course or travel along a path; travel or pass over, around, or along
  • v. make a mark or lines on a surface
  • n. a drawing created by superimposing a semitransparent sheet of paper on the original image and copying on it the lines of the original image


Middle English, track, from Old French, from tracier, to make one's way, from Vulgar Latin *tractiāre, from Latin tractus, a dragging, course, from past participle of trahere, to draw.
Middle English trais, from Old French, pl. of trait, a hauling, harness strap, from Latin tractus, a hauling, from past participle of trahere, to haul.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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