Meaning of trace


Pronunciation: (trās), [key]
— n., v., traced, trac•ing.
  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.
  3. an extremely small amount of some chemical component: a trace of copper in its composition.
  4. the series of footprints left by an animal.
  5. the track left by the passage of a person, animal, or object: the trace of her skates on the ice.
  6. precipitation of less than 0.005 in. (0.127 mm).
  7. a trail or path, esp. through wild or open territory, made by the passage of people, animals, or vehicles.
  8. engram.
  9. a tracing, drawing, or sketch of something.
  10. a lightly drawn line, as the record drawn by a self-registering instrument.
    1. the intersection of two planes, or of a plane and a surface.
    2. the sum of the elements along the principal diagonal of a square matrix.
    3. the geometric locus of an equation.
  11. the visible line or lines produced on the screen of a cathode-ray tube by the deflection of the electron beam.
  12. (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.
  13. a footprint.
  1. to follow the footprints, track, or traces of.
  2. to follow, make out, or determine the course or line of, esp. by going backward from the latest evidence, nearest existence, etc.: to trace one's ancestry to the Pilgrims.
  3. to follow (footprints, evidence, the history or course of something, etc.).
  4. to follow the course, development, or history of: to trace a political movement.
  5. to ascertain by investigation; find out; discover: The police were unable to trace his whereabouts.
  6. to draw (a line, outline, figure, etc.).
  7. to make a plan, diagram, or map of.
  8. to copy (a drawing, plan, etc.) by following the lines of the original on a superimposed transparent sheet.
  9. to mark or ornament with lines, figures, etc.
  10. to make an impression or imprinting of (a design, pattern, etc.).
  11. (of a self-registering instrument) to print in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.
  12. to put down in writing.
  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.
  3. (of a self-registering instrument) to print a record in a curved, broken, or wavy-lined manner.


Pronunciation: (trās), [key]
— n.
  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. See illus. under harness.
  2. a piece in a machine, as a bar, transferring the movement of one part to another part, being hinged to each.
  3. to throw off restraint; become independent or defiant: He kicked over the traces and ran off to join the navy.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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