Word Origin & History
late 14c., "to make a plan or diagram," from O.Fr. trasser "delineate, score, trace, follow, pursue" (12c.), from V.L. *tractiare "delineate, score, trace" (cf. Sp. trazar "to trace, devise, plan out," It. tracciare "to follow by foot"), from L. tractus "track, course," lit. "a drawing out," from pp.
stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract
(1)). Meaning "to pass over" (a path, etc.) is attested from late 14c. Sense of "draw an outline of" is first recorded late 14c. Meaning "copy a drawing on a transparent sheet laid over it" is recorded from 1762.
"straps or chains by which an animal pulls a vehicle," c.1300, from earlier collective plural trays, from O.Fr. traiz, pl. of trait "strap for harnessing, act of drawing," from L. tractus "a drawing, track," from stem of trahere "to pull, draw" (see tract
"track made by passage of a person or thing," c.1300, from O.Fr. trace, back-formation from tracier (see trace
(v.)). Scientific sense of "indication of minute presence in some chemical compound" is from 1827. The verb in the sense of "follow by means of traces or tracks"
is recorded from c.1450. Traces "vestiges" is from c.1400. Tracer "bullet whose course is made visible" is attested from 1910.