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[ree-treys] /riˈtreɪs/
verb (used with object), re-traced, re-tracing.
to trace again, as lines in writing or drawing.
Also, retrace.
Origin of re-trace
1750-60; re- + trace1


[ri-treys] /rɪˈtreɪs/
verb (used with object), retraced, retracing.
to trace backward; go back over:
to retrace one's steps.
to go back over with the memory.
to go over again with the sight or attention.
1690-1700; < French retracer, Middle French retracier, equivalent to re- re- + tracier to trace1
Related forms
retraceable, adjective
retracement, noun
nonretraceable, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for retrace
Historical Examples
  • As they watched they saw Sam and Nick turn and retrace their steps back along the path.

    Tom Fairfield in Camp Allen Chapman
  • With what emotions would she trace and retrace her own eventful story!

  • retrace your steps, young man, and make atonement for your errors!

    Master Olof August Strindberg
  • I knew it must be near noontime, so I began to retrace my way.

  • It was a different problem for two tired and nerve-exhausted men to retrace their steps.

    The Web of the Golden Spider Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • They turned, and with Sim between them Ralph and Rotha began to retrace their steps.

  • The poet went on to say: "But to retrace your steps, and escape to the upper air, this is a work, this is a toil."

    Short Studies in Ethics John Ormsby Miller
  • I watched him go up to the letter-box and then retrace his steps.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • So when Bowden started to retrace his steps, he did not know where he was.

    Thirty Years on the Frontier Robert McReynolds
  • Mrs. Travers let fall her arm and began to retrace her steps, unsupported and alone.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for retrace


verb (transitive)
to go back over (one's steps, a route, etc) again: we retraced the route we took last summer
to go over (a past event) in the mind; recall
to go over (a story, account, etc) from the beginning
Derived Forms
retraceable, adjective
retracement, noun


(transitive) to trace (a map, drawing, etc) again
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for retrace

1690s, from French retracer "to trace again," from Middle French retracier, from re- "again" (see re-) + tracier "to trace" (see trace (v.)). Related: Retraced; retracing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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