There are 2 definitions of trace in English:


Syllabification: trace
Pronunciation: /trās


[with object]
1Find or discover by investigation: police are trying to trace a white van seen in the area
More example sentences
  • Now Lloyd and Debbie Peters, who moved to Australia from Hockley, are calling for help in tracing the white Havenese dog who ran off while being groomed.
  • What was dismissed as a ‘third-rate burglary’ was eventually traced to the White House.
  • Police have so far been unable to trace the white Conway trailer, but a cheque from the Donnes has gone some way to lifting the youngster's spirits.
track down, find, discover, detect, unearth, turn up, hunt down, ferret out
1.1Find or describe the origin or development of: Bob’s book traces his flying career with the Marines
More example sentences
  • The origins of this state of laws can be traced to the development of feudalism and the consequent horizontal and vertical associations that were created in the British body politic.
  • Although these developments are unexpected, their origins can be traced to China's 1996 military exercises.
  • The origins of the pudding can be traced to the commercial developments of the city between 1685 and 1825.
1.2Follow or mark the course or position of (something) with one’s eye, mind, or finger: through the binoculars, I traced the path I had taken the night before
More example sentences
  • Yohanna's fingers traced a silver crescent mark on the babe's forehead and in that brief moment Yohanna recognized her.
  • It had claw marks across its wooden panels, and when I traced them with my finger I decided that they were far too big to be from some kind of animal.
  • He reached out his hand and his fingers traced her laughing smile.
1.3Take (a particular path or route): a tear traced a lonely path down her cheek
More example sentences
  • A lonely tear traced a path much traveled down her cheek, but she wiped it away.
  • I screamed, tears tracing paths down my cheeks.
  • Deirdre murmured, a tear tracing a path down her cheek, from sympathy, or from the bruises Alana was probably inflicting, he had no idea.
2Copy (a drawing, map, or design) by drawing over its lines on a superimposed piece of transparent paper.
More example sentences
  • Using graphite paper, they traced their portrait onto the map pieces.
  • If you are not confident in your drawing skills, you may want to use a piece of tracing paper and trace the image you would to place on the rubber stamp.
  • They first drew their portrait on paper before tracing the sketch on to the fabric.
outline, map out, follow, sketch out, delineate, depict, show, indicate
2.1Draw (a pattern or line), especially with one’s finger or toe.
More example sentences
  • His hand gripped the hilt of his sword, the blade drawn but down so the point traced a line in the snow.
  • Now, with your finger, trace a few quick lines in the heap, imposing some sort of visual rhythm.
  • I knew where his hands were on my back, I could feel the patterns he was tracing with his fingers, where my hands were behind his neck, the fireworks exploding in my head.
draw, outline, mark, sketch
2.2Give an outline of: the article traces out some of the connections between education, qualifications, and the labor market
More example sentences
  • Figure 6.3 is a useful alternative way of looking at this issue since it traces out combinations of prices for the two markets which yield the same levels of consumer surplus or profits.


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1A mark, object, or other indication of the existence or passing of something: remove all traces of the old adhesive the aircraft disappeared without trace
More example sentences
  • The building of the Bow flyover removed all traces of the old bridge, and the River Lea is now barely visible beside the dual carriageway beneath.
  • But I think that even if I get rid of all visible traces, that mark of vulnerability that he's left on my home will remain for a long time to come.
  • Today, they had disappeared without a trace, not even in evidence on a remainder table.
vestige, sign, mark, indication, evidence, clue; trail, tracks, marks, prints, footprints, spoor; remains, remnant, relic
1.1North American & West Indian A beaten path or small road; a track.
More example sentences
  • Path was synonymous with trace, another invaluable gift that pioneers used to penetrate the otherwise impassable.
  • Here, however, it came to be another old and enduring track through otherwise treacherous and disorienting terrain, a variation of path and trace.
  • S'sahr barked an order and there were groans, but the troopers spread out keeping eyes open for any traces or tracks.
1.2A physical change in the brain presumed to be caused by a process of learning or memory.
More example sentences
  • Mean familiarity across all traces in memory indexes the likelihood that a match response is elicited.
  • Commitment to memory or a given past is weak if its physical trace is planned to be removable and possibly replaced.
  • Reconstruction of the mental trace in a complex process, after the fact, is a major challenge as few realize.
1.3A procedure to investigate the source of something, such as the place from which a telephone call was made, or the origin of an error in a computer program.
More example sentences
  • In the beginning of the film, Trinity is on the phone and we see the computer doing a telephone trace.
  • Witnesses took the number of the car and police conducted a trace on the vehicle.
2A very small quantity, especially one too small to be accurately measured: his body contained traces of amphetamines [as modifier]: trace quantities of PCBs
More example sentences
  • Each pit can hold a trace quantity of a chemical that reacts to a certain protein found in the blood.
  • Ammonia, for example, is present in trace quantities, yet it is considered to be essential in maintaining soils at a pH of around eight, that is, optimal for sustaining life.
  • The hope is that someday people could wear a badge that would turn a color or make a noise when an specific nerve agent is present in trace quantities.
2.1A slight indication or barely discernible hint of something: just a trace of a smile
More example sentences
  • A trace of sadness was barely audible in Cattia's flat voice, perhaps such a small sliver of one that only Tania really could pick it up.
  • It is a tribute to him that there is barely a trace of tedium in a performance lasting more than four hours.
  • ‘You're always damned by the exception,’ Hill says with the slightest trace of a smile.
3A line or pattern displayed by an instrument using a moving pen or a luminous spot on a screen to show the existence or nature of something that is being investigated.
More example sentences
  • Baxter must now wait to see if the IOC will agree to a second test to establish the nature of the trace detected.
  • The traces were recorded at different voltages.
  • The consensus model presented here is derived from the results of analyzing only six traces recorded in response to a single perturbation.
3.1A line that represents the projection of a curve or surface on a plane or the intersection of a curve or surface with a plane.
More example sentences
  • The axis of the trace is curved slightly to the left.
  • The sheets are bilobed about a median furrow, visible in both vertical and horizontal sections, and form straight to gently curved, cross-cutting traces.
  • The thick black curve of Fig.2 illustrates representative traces of tension versus time.
4 Mathematics The sum of the elements in the principle diagonal of a square matrix.
More example sentences
  • This paper is more than an extension, however, for in it he used matrices, in particular the trace of a matrix, to greatly simplify the formulas he had presented in his 1926 paper.
  • The sum of the eigenvalues is the trace of this matrix and it is sometimes called ‘total variance.’
  • There is a clue to the way neural circuits control the disruptive forces of chaos in the trace in Figure 3.


Middle English (first recorded as a noun in the sense 'path that someone or something takes'): from Old French trace (noun), tracier (verb), based on Latin tractus (see tract1).



Pronunciation: /ˌtrāsəˈbilitē/
More example sentences
  • Minister Joe Walsh described NSIS as a most important development in progressing animal identification and traceability in Ireland.
  • He said sheep tagging and traceability will assist in resolving illegal movements but the reality is that tagging in itself will not apprehend and root out rogue dealers.
  • They include traceability, safe farm practices, prudent use of antibiotics and chemicals, pasteurisation and meat contamination.


More example sentences
  • Threatening someone via email from a traceable source is one thing, but doing it via a public post is another slightly more brainless way of doing things.
  • He said crucial meetings next week must face up to the need for traceable farm-to-farm movement to be introduced without further delays.
  • The financial disasters are directly traceable to the cultural and ideological catastrophes which these films represent.


More example sentences
  • They've found all thirty people, nameless and traceless!
  • Stories travel through the minds of those who receive them, and follow traceless, timeless paths unaccountable to rational means.
  • With this experience, the traces of enlightenment are eliminated and a life of traceless enlightenment is limitlessly renewed.

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Pronunciation: ˌhjuːməˈrɛsk
a short, lively piece of music

There are 2 definitions of trace in English:


Syllabification: trace
Pronunciation: /


Each of the two side straps, chains, or ropes by which a horse is attached to a vehicle that it is pulling.
More example sentences
  • Ales broke off in mid-explanation to dive into the crowd, reappearing clasping a handkerchief waving teenage girl, and yoking her into the cart's rope traces.
  • The horses pulling the carriage suddenly took fright for no apparent reason, snapped the traces and bolted off, startling both the hosts and their guest of honour.


Middle English (denoting a pair of traces): from Old French trais, plural of trait (see trait).

Definition of trace in: