trace

Definitions

General English

  • noun something which shows that something existed

General Science

  • noun a line or pattern made on a screen or piece of paper by a device recording an electrical signal

Agriculture

  • noun a very small amount of something

Commerce

  • verb to find where someone or something is
  • verb to copy a drawing, etc., by placing a sheet of transparent paper over it and drawing on it

Computing

  • noun a method of verifying that a program is functioning correctly, in which the current status and contents of the registers and variables used are displayed after each instruction step

Electronics

  • To follow the course of something. For example, to record all computer system activities which lead to a crash, or to trace a telephone call. Also, the record, listing, or other documentary evidence so obtained.
  • In a CRT, the path followed by the electron beam as it moves across the screen. Also called line (5).
  • The movement or path followed by a scan or sweep. Also, to follow such a movement.
  • The line drawn by a recording instrument such as a spectrograph, oscillograph, or cardiograph. Also, to draw such a line.
  • A comparatively minute quantity of something, such as an element.
  • An amount which is too small to be measured, but which is know to be present.

Information & Library Science

  • verb to find somebody or something after a prolonged search

Military

  • noun a piece of transparent paper or plastic, marked with boundaries, positions, routes, and other information relating to an operation, which is designed to be placed over a map as a means of briefing the participants.

Origin & History of “trace”

English has two distinct words trace, but they come from the same ultimate ancestor. This was tractus (source also of English tract, tractor, treat, etc), the past participle of Latin trahere ‘pull’. This passed into Old French as trait ‘pulling, draught’, hence ‘harness-strap’, from which English gets trait (16th c.). Its plural trais was borrowed by English as trace ‘harness-strap’ (14th c.). Tractus also formed the basis of a vulgar Latin verb *tractiāre ‘drag’, which evolved into Old French tracier ‘make one’s way’, source of the English verb trace (14th c.). A noun trace was also derived from tracier, and this too was acquired by English as trace (13th c.). At first it denoted a ‘path’ or ‘track’; the modern sense ‘visible sign’ did not develop until the 17th century.
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