I. 1. intr. To take one’s course, make one’s way; to proceed, pass, go, travel, tread. Also fig.
c1400 Rom. Rose 6745 Yit may he go his breed begging; Fro dore to dore he may go trace, Til he the remenaunt may purchace. ?a1400 Morte Arth. 1629 Traise to-warde Troys tresone to wyrke. 1503HAWES Examp. Virt. X. viii, No man by yonde this marke may trace. 1513 DOUGLAS Æneis VIII. v. 5 The prestis..Gan trasing furth. a1518 SKELTON Magnyf. 692 As good to be occupyed as vp and downe to trace And do nothynge. 1598 Mucedorus IV. iii. 52 The wood lanes..strawed With violets, cowslips, and swete marigolds For thee to trampel and to trace vpon. 1603 H. CROSSE Vertues Commw. (1878) 23 Induce them..to trace in the wholsome path that leadeth to the house of honour. a1688 VILLIERS (Dk. Buckhm.) Restoration Wks. (1775) 104 Fall off again,..and every man trace to his house again. 1793 Minstrel II. 126 The forest, which she did not chuse to enter, but traced along its edge.
2. intr. To pace or step in dancing; to tread a measure; to dance. Also trans. (rare). Obs.
c1425 LYDG. Dance of Macabre in Bochas, etc. (1554) 220b, Death I may not flee, On this daunce with other for to trace. 1445 in Anglia XXVIII. 273 Orpheus harpe which trees made trace. 1509 BARCLAYShyp of Folys (1874) II. 290 To hunt to chace: to daunce: to trace: what one is he That beryth face. 1602 HEYWOOD Woman Killed Wks. 1874 II. 96 Come, Nick, take you Ioane Miniuer to trace withall. 1697 W. DAMPIER Voy. (1729) I. 541 They traced too and fro promiscuously, often clapping their Hands and singing aloud. 1808 SCOTT Marm. V. vii, The king loved well The merry dance, traced fast and light.
3. trans. To pass along or over, tread (a path, way, street, etc.). Also fig. Obs.
c1381 CHAUCER Parl. Foules 54 Oure present wor[l]dis lyuys space Nys but a maner deth what weye we trace. 1580 SIDNEY Ps. VIII. viii, The fish,..And what thing els of waters traceth The unworn paths. 1621 J. REYNOLDS God’s Rev. agst. Murder I. i. 5 Tracing the street in a neate perfumed boote with iangling spurres. 1650 FULLER Pisgah III. xii. 343 The passage..commonly called the dolorous way,..traced with the blessed feet of our Saviour. 1794 BLAKE Songs Exper., Lit. Girl Found 8 Arm in arm seven days They traced the desert ways.fig. 1508 FISHER 7 Penit. Ps. Prol., Wks. (E.E.T.S.) I. 2 That al tho persones that ententyfely rede or here them may be styred the better to trace the way of eternall salvacion.
4. trans. To travel or range over; to go or pass about, around, or through; to tread, traverse.
1430-40 LYDG. Bochas VI. iv. (Bodl. MS. 263) lf. 314/2 Fond no loggyng, tracing the contres Saue in kauernys, & in holwe trees. 1577 GRANGE Golden Aphrod. Gjb, My harte it dothe bothe skippe and ioye to see hir trace the grounde. 1594 MARLOWE & NASHE Dido I. i, But hapless I..Do trace these Lybian deserts, all despis’d. 1598 HAKLUYT Voy. I. 235 We sayled..with diuers other courses, trauersing and tracing the seas, by reason of sundry and manifolde contrary windes. 1632 LITHGOW Trav. IX. 412, I traced the fertile soyles of Carindia. 1807 CRABBE Par. Reg. I. 306 He soon arrived, he traced the village green.
II. 5. a. To follow the footprints or traces of; esp. to track by the footprints; also with the traces as object; hence, to pursue, to dog.
c1440 Pallad. on Husb. Tab. 39 Been forto trace vnto their dwellyng. 1530 PALSGR. 760/2 It is forbydden to trace hares in snowe tyme. 1559 Mirr. Mag., Owen Glendour xxxi, So traste they me among the mountaynes wide. 1605 SHAKES. Macb. IV. i. 153 His Wife, his Babes, and all vnfortunate Soules That trace him in his Line. 1632 LITHGOW Trav. I. 17 Still left vntold, something there must be seene For them, who trace our feete, with Argus eyne. 1677 W. HUBBARD Narrative (1865) II. 124 By the help of the Snow that fell about that Time, [they] were traced till they were overtaken. 1841 ELPHINSTONE Hist. India I. 123Bound to find out the possessor of any stolen property within the township, or to trace him till he has passed the boundary. 1886 C. E. PASCOE London of To-day xxi. (ed. 3) 207 We might have traced Thackeray through his wanderings from street to street. a1913 Mod. Note the number of the postal order, so that it may be traced if lost.
b. fig. To follow, pursue (instructions, example, etc.).
1649 W. BLITHE Eng. Improv. Impr. (1653) 100 Observe my Method, and strictly trace my Instructions. 1745 Transl. & Paraphr. Sc. Ch. LII. i, You who the Name of Jesus bear, His holy Footsteps trace.
6. fig. To follow the course, development, or history of. Also with the course, etc. as object.
1654 BRAMHALL Just Vind. v. (1661) 90 If we trace on this argument a little further, to search out how the Bishop of Rome comes to be Saint Peters heire. 1729 BUTLER Serm. Wks. 1874 II. 168 The common virtues, and the common vices of mankind, may be traced up to benevolence, or the want of it. 1766 BLACKSTONE Comm. II. xiv. 236 The tracing the inheritance back through the male line of ancestors. 1849MACAULAY Hist. Eng. iv. I. 503 No libel on the government had ever been traced to a Quaker. 1887 Westm. Rev. June 309 We have traced the history of Lower Canada down to the year 1839.
b. intr. for pass. To trace its origin or history; to go back in time, to date back.
1876 Rep. Vermont Board Agric. III. 107 The farmer loses sight of the fact that the character of the calf..may ‘trace back’, as it is termed, to a remote ancestor. 1886 Field 4 Sept. 346/1 The Belvoir Senator and the Brocklesby Harbinger traced directly to the Fitzwilliam. 1889 JACOBS & LANG Æsop’s Fables 53 The earliest form..cannot trace back earlier than the third..century. 1907 Daily Chron. 9 Sept. 3/2 The scare of invasion traces to the Armada of 1588.
7. a. trans. To make out and follow (with the eye or mind) the course or line of; to ascertain (the course or line of something).
1703 MAUNDRELL Journ. Jerus., Euphrates, etc. (1732) 2 Its Walls, which may be traced all round. 1779 Mirror No. 9 3, I..amused myself with tracing in the daughters, those features which, in the mothers and grandmothers, had charmed me so often. 1818 in Tuckey Narr. Exped. R. Zaire Introd. 8 The stream of this mysterious river [the Niger] being now traced with certainty from west to east as far as Tombuctoo. 1839 MURCHISON Silur. Syst. I. xxxvii. 572 In situations where the boulders may be traced..to their parent rocks. 1856 STANLEY Sinai & Pal. i. 19 Often their course can be traced, not by visible water, but a track of moss here, a fringe of rushes there. 1907 Verney Mem. I. 2 The form of the ancient manor house may still be traced.
b. To make out (worn or obscure writing); to discern, decipher.
1761 GRAY Odin 22 Thrice he traced the runic rhyme. 1792 S. ROGERS Pleas. Mem. I. 137 It calls me..to trace The few fond lines that Time may soon efface. 1859 JEPHSON Brittany ii. 17 The characters may still be traced on a block of granite.
c. To make a tracing of (a listed item); to derive (a tracing) from an index or catalogue; see TRACING vbl. n.1 1b.
1905 N.Y. State Library Bull. No. 95. 578 See that every secondary card is traced on one or both main cards. 1914 [see TRACING vbl. n.1 1b]. 1926 Amer. Speech II. 93 The catalog cards are ‘main entry’ cards and ‘secondary entry’ cards, the latter being ‘traced’ from the former.
8. a. To discover, find out, or ascertain by investigation; to find out step by step; to search out.
1642 FULLER Holy & Prof. St. V. i. 359 God..varieth his ways of dealing with wantons, that they may be at a losse in tracing him. 1697 DRYDEN Virg. Georg. II. 699 Happy the Man, who, studying Nature’s Laws, Thro’ known Effects can trace the secret Cause. 1745 Transl. & Paraphr. Sc. Ch. XXII. iv, Tho’ him thou can’st not see, nor trace the working of his hands. 1869 H. F. TOZER Highl. Turkey II. 306 Tracing a connection..where in reality none exists.
b. To discover evidence of the existence or occurrence of; to find traces of.
1697 DRYDEN Æneid Ded. (1721) 350 He observes no Method that I can trace, whatever Scaliger the Father, or Heinsius, may have seen. 1782 F. BURNEY Cecilia VIII. ix, The earliest circumstances she could trace were kindnesses received from her. 1856 RUSKIN Mod. Paint. III. IV. x. §8 There is a great deal more in your heart, of evil and good, than you ever can trace. a1862 BUCKLE Civiliz. (1871) III. v. 367 Black..called it latent heat, because though we conceive it as an idea, we cannot trace it as a fact.
c. Computers. To subject (a program) to a trace (TRACE n.1 12a).
1959 M. H. WRUBEL Primer of Programming for Digital Computers v. 107 When a program is traced, the machine produces a record of each instruction as it is performed. 1967 KLERER & KORN Digital Computer User’s Handbk. I. i. 23 The location limits of the program segments to be traced enter as initial parameters to the trace program. 1981 L. A. HILL Structured Programming in FORTRAN iii. 73 The program is traced in Table 3-6 with Rule 4 relaxed.
III. 9. trans. To mark, make marks upon; esp. to mark or ornament with lines, figures, or characters: cf. TRACERY.
a1400-50 Alexander 4914 e testre trased full of trones with trimballand wingis e silloure full of Seraphens. 1523 SKELTON Garl. Laurel 395 With diamauntes and rubis there tabers were trasid. 1582 D. INGRAM in Hakluyt Voy. (1589) 558 The haire of their heads is shauen in sundry spots, and the rest of their head is traced [? tattooed]. 1832 TENNYSON Pal. Art xiii, The deep-set windows, stain’d and traced, Would seem slow-flaming crimson fires From shadow’d grots of arches interlaced. 1858 WHITTIER Palm-Tree 24 He holds a palm-leaf scroll in his hands, Traced with the Prophet’s wise commands. 1890 Daily News 6 Jan. 5/2 Stockings and buckles were richly traced; the pocket was often a blaze of the richest embroidery.
10. To make a plan, diagram, or chart of (something existing or to be constructed); to mark out the course of (a road, etc.) on, or by means of, a plan or map; to mark or set out (the lines of a work or road) on the ground itself. Also fig., to devise (a plan of action), map out (a policy).
1374-5, 1399 [implied in tracing-house, -board: see TRACING vbl. n.1 5]. 1599 PORTER Angry Wom. Abingd. (Percy Soc.) 60 When I had doubled my poynt, traste my ground. 1624 LD. KENSINGTON in Ellis Orig. Lett. Ser. I. III. 173 What they traced out for the breaking of the match, you follow, pretending to conclude it. c1645 HOWELL Lett. (1650) I. 66 The castle [in Milan], by which the citadel of Antwerp was traced.1669 STAYNRED Fortification 6 Tables..Whereby you may trace out any Fort by help of a Line of Equal Parts. 1696 PHILLIPS (ed. 5), To Trace, to draw upon Paper the plane of a Building or Fortification. 1834 L. RITCHIE Wand. Seine 120 Rollo’s..path, like that of other conquerors, was traced in blood and ashes. 1871 FREEMAN Norm. Conq. IV. xviii. 212 The Ermine Street, notwithstanding all the centuries which have passed since it was first traced out and paved, is still distinguished from a yet older track.
11. a. To draw; to draw an outline or figure of; also, to put down in writing, to pen. [So OF. tracier.]
1390 GOWER Conf. III. 46 Babilla with hire Sones sevene..With Cernes bothe square and rounde He traceth ofte upon the grounde. c1440 Promp. Parv. 499/1 Tracyn, or draw strykys, protraho. 1665 BOYLEOccas. Refl. V. iii. heading, Killing a Crow.., and immediately tracing the ensuing Reflection with a Pen made of one of his Quills. 1712 J. JAMES tr. Le Blond’s Gardening 96 Then trace upon the Ground the Triangle CDE. 1859 GULLICK & TIMBS Paint. 8 The mode of commencing a picture by tracing the outline was followed by the early oil painters. 1888 BURGON Lives 12 Gd. Men I. i. 26 These last [annotations] were evidently traced by fingers rendered tremulous by age.
b. To copy (a drawing, plan, etc.) by following the lines of the original drawing on a transparent sheet placed upon it; to make a tracing of.
1762-71 H. WALPOLE Vertue’s Anecd. Paint. (1786) V. 211 There were an hundred and four heads, hands and feet, traced off from the Cartoons. 1885 ‘MRS. ALEXANDER’ At Bay iii, They practiced duets together, and traced patterns.
IV. 12. In phr. trace and traverse, trace and rase, in reference to combatants: sense uncertain: cf. RACE v.3, RASE v.1, and TRAVERSE v. Obs.
1470-85 MALORY Arthur VI. viii. 194 Thus they ferd two houres or mo trasyng and rasyng eyther other where they myght hytte ony bare place. Ibid. VII. iv. 217 They rasshyd to gyders lyke borys tracynge, rasynge and foynynge to the mountenaunce of an houre. Ibid. X. xxx. 463 Thus they tracyd and trauercyd and hewe on helmes and hawberkes… And euer sire Tristram tracyd and trauercyd and wente forward hym here and there. 1596 SPENSER F.Q. V. viii. 37 Thus long they trast, and trauerst to and fro.
Hence traced (trest) ppl. a.1, (a) travelled, journeyed: with adverbial qualification (obs.); (b) outlined, drawn, written; tracing ppl. a., that traces or draws lines.
1632 LITHGOW Trav. vii. (1906) 293 My life and liberty being deare to me, my long traced feete became more nimble in twelve score paces, then they could follow in eighteene. 1712 J. JAMES tr. Le Blond’s Gardening 92 The traced Line AB. 1875 T. SEATON Fret-Cutting 146 Place the edge of the tool on the traced line. 1884 Mil. Engineering (ed. 3) I. II. 21 A sapper should be stationed..to await the arrival of the tracing party. 1907 Daily Chron. 24 Jan. 8/1 The spiral..must be skated boldly,..the knee of the tracing leg rather strongly bent.
ADDITIONS SERIES 1993
Add: [II.] [7.] d. To follow or make out (a course, line, etc.) with one’s finger. Also with the finger as subj.
1931 A. UTTLEY Country Child x. 124 Her fingers traced the way, round corners to her high attic, where..she climbed into bed and fell asleep. 1939 R. P. WARREN Night Rider xiii. 315 He held the book in his left hand and his right forefinger traced each line as he read it. 1972 T. KENEALLY Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith v. 34 His fingers traced padmarks along the edge of the road and into tussocks on the verge. 1980 D. BOGARDE Gentle Occupation v. 114 She leaned up from him and traced his throat with her finger. 1984 K. HULME Bone People (1985) ii. 52 Simon is tracing the intricacies of the tatami mat with his forefinger.