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trace (v.)
late 14c., "follow (a course); draw a line, make an outline of something," also figurative; "ponder, investigate," from Old French tracier "look for, follow, pursue" (12c., Modern French tracer), from Vulgar Latin *tractiare "delineate, score, trace" (source also of Spanish trazar "to trace, devise, plan out," Italian tracciare "to follow by foot"), a frequentative form from Latin tractus "track, course," literally "a drawing out," from past participle stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Meaning "move along, pass over" (a path, etc.) is attested from c. 1400; that of "track down, follow the trail of" is early 15c. Meaning "copy a drawing on a transparent sheet laid over it" is recorded from 1762. Related: Traced; tracing.
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trace (n.2)
"straps or chains by which an animal pulls a vehicle," c. 1300, from earlier collective plural trays, from Old French traiz, plural of trait "strap for harnessing, act of drawing," from Latin tractus "a drawing, track," from stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract (n.1)). Related: Traces.
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trace (n.1)
"track made by passage of a person or thing," c. 1300, from Old French trace "mark, imprint, tracks" (12c.), back-formation from tracier (see trace (v.)). Scientific sense of "indication of minute presence in some chemical compound" is from 1827. Traces "vestiges" is from c. 1400.
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traceable (adj.)
1748, from trace (v.) + -able. Related: Traceability.
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tracer (n.)
c. 1500, "one who tracks or searches," agent noun from verb form of trace (n.1). Meaning "bullet whose course is made visible" is from 1910.
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tracery (n.)
mid-15c., "a place for drawing," formed in English from trace (v.) + -ery. Architectural sense, in reference to intersecting rib work in the upper part of a gothic window, is attested from 1660s. "Introduced by Wren, who described it as a masons' term" [Weekley].
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retrace (v.)

1690s, "trace back to a source," from French retracer "to trace again," earlier retracier, from re- "again" (see re-) + tracier "to trace" (see trace (v.)). Sense of "go back upon" (one's steps, path, etc.) is by 1794. Related: Retraced; retracing.

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vestige (n.)
c. 1600, from French vestige "a mark, trace, sign" (16c.), from Latin vestigium "footprint, trace," a word of unknown origin.
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spoor (n.)
"track, trace," 1823, used originally by travelers in South Africa, from Afrikaans spoor, from Dutch spoor, from Middle Dutch spor, cognate with Old English spor "footprint, track, trace," from Proto-Germanic *spur-am, from PIE *spere- "ankle" (see spurn).
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investigable (adj.)
"that may be investigated," c. 1400, from Late Latin investigabilis "that may be searched into," from Latin investigare "trace out, search after," from in- "in, into" (from PIE root *en "in") + vestigare "to track, trace," from vestigium "footprint, track" (see vestige).
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