audit trail


Definition of audit trail

: a record of a sequence of events (such as actions performed by a computer) from which a history may be reconstructed

Examples of audit trail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web All the questions and answers are recorded, creating an audit trail that allows regulators and courts to inspect how the data has been used and to penalize misuse. Alex Ryan, Quartz, "Can smart cities help their residents without hurting their privacy?," 27 Nov. 2019 In one instance, the FDA claims, technicians had disabled the audit trail, run 80 covert tests, then turned the trail back on two days later. Katherine Eban, WIRED, "8 Ways Overseas Drug Manufacturers Dupe the FDA," 7 Aug. 2019 At the plant’s quality-control laboratory, an investigator searched the grid of computer audit trails, using his rudimentary college Mandarin. Katherine Eban, WIRED, "8 Ways Overseas Drug Manufacturers Dupe the FDA," 7 Aug. 2019 The audit trail is years behind schedule and recently launched its first phase while still missing some key functions. Dave Michaels, WSJ, "Machine Trading Needs More Oversight, Departing SEC Official Says," 21 Dec. 2018 And the whole system will need to provide an audit trail of user actions—including who initially marked the classification level, where, and when, as well as classification upgrades and downgrades. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "DOD seeks classification “Clippy” to help classify data, control access," 10 July 2018 Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina all rely exclusively on electronic voting machines without a paper audit trail. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: How Colorado became the safest state to cast a vote," 10 May 2018 Rather, the transaction on the blockchain would eliminate high costs, provide a system for accurately logging the transactions, and process payments in real time with a verifiably true audit trail. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "J.P. Morgan Files Patent for Blockchain-Powered Payments," 4 May 2018 The new software produces an audit trail that documents any changes made to the accounts. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Dayton 'double billing' result of new software," 4 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'audit trail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of audit trail

1954, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about audit trail

Time Traveler for audit trail

Time Traveler

The first known use of audit trail was in 1954

See more words from the same year

Statistics for audit trail

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Audit trail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for audit trail

audit trail


Financial Definition of audit trail

What It Is

An audit trail refers to the complete record of events that occurred in the execution of a transaction.

How It Works

When a transaction is executed (e.g. a business purchase), each documented step taken makes up the audit trail. Depending on the transaction, the audit trail can be highly complex or very simple.

For instance, the audit trail for the purchase of a carton of milk would consist only of the receipt for the transaction. This receipt details the exchange of cash for the item purchased (milk), the date, and the institution where it occurred (the store).

Why It Matters

The records comprised in an audit trail can be reviewed with diligence in the event that accounting figures fail to reconcile. Recreating a transaction step-by-step will reveal where a breakdown in the process occurred (if any).

Source: Investing Answers

More from Merriam-Webster on audit trail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with audit trail

Comments on audit trail

What made you want to look up audit trail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!