—n. 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. traces,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. Meteorol.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.
9. a tracing, drawing, or sketch of something.
10. a lightly drawn line, as the record drawn by a self-registering instrument.
11. Math. a. the intersection of two planes, or of a plane and a surface.
b. the sum of the elements along the principal diagonal of a square matrix.
c. the geometric locus of an equation.
12. the visible line or lines produced on the screen of a cathode-ray tube by the deflection of the electron beam.
13. Ling.(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.
14. Obs.a footprint.
—v.t. 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.
—v.i. 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. kick over the traces, to throw off restraint; become independent or defiant: He kicked over the traces and ran off to join the navy.