re·​trace (ˌ)rē-ˈtrās How to pronounce retrace (audio)
retraced; retracing

transitive verb

: to trace (something) again or back: such as
: to go over or along (something, such as a course or path) again often in a reverse direction
The hikers retraced the path back to the cabin.
… an expedition that retraced Theodore Roosevelt's route along a Brazilian river …Warren E. Leary
He found his phone by retracing his steps/footsteps.
: to go over (something) again in memory : recall
Then she'd retrace memories of her mother, reminiscence, and find enough good things to bring joy back into her life …Katherine Jones
: to discover the origin or early history of (something) by going back over previous steps
retrace (the origin of) a word to German
: to follow, study, or present (something) in detail or step by step
But there's also a new exhibition in the city that retraces the roots of the Italian fashion industry.Patrick Boehler
Let us retrace his argument.José Eduardo González
: to write or draw (something, such as a letter or line) again
children tracing and retracing the alphabet
especially : to write or draw directly over and following along (an existing line, letter, etc.)
The penciled shapes were retraced with black marker.
The challenge: Connect nine dots, arrayed in three rows of three, using four straight lines without retracing a line or lifting the pen. Adam Piore
retraceability noun
retraceable adjective
a series of easily retraceable steps

Examples of retrace in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Years ago, New Jersey officials commissioned Sparks to portray Tubman during a two-week, 180-mile trek across the state that retraced parts of the Underground Railroad. Donna M. Owens, NBC News, 28 Feb. 2024 In other words, Buehler is having to retrace some of his old rehab steps — like completing an offseason throwing program, refining his mechanics in bullpen sessions and seeing how well his arm bounces back between outings this go around. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2024 The grandfather decided to go back to their hunting campsite, retracing their steps. Frank Vaisvilas, Journal Sentinel, 19 Jan. 2024 Its 100-year anniversary in 2021 passed quietly, without celebration — unlike the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death in 2005, when fans dressed like the actor descended on the store and retraced his final drive. Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 For 15 years, Milgrom researched her family’s roots and retraced a maternal lineage of Judaism dating back to 1391. Amanda Rosa, Orlando Sentinel, 10 Jan. 2024 In a landmark 1994 study, investigators took brain recordings that showed the during slow-wave sleep by retracing them. Ingrid Wickelgren, Scientific American, 20 Feb. 2024 To return, retrace your steps back along the paved path, seeing the sights from a new perspective. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Feb. 2024 Halfway through the work, all seven vocalists reached the center, and then slowly began retracing their paths. Christian Hertzog, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'retrace.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of retrace was in 1594

Dictionary Entries Near retrace

Cite this Entry

“Retrace.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


re·​trace (ˌ)rē-ˈtrās How to pronounce retrace (audio)
retraced; retracing
: to write or draw again or directly over
retraced the letters
: to go over (as a route) again or in a reverse direction
: to follow, study, or present in detail or in steps
: recall

More from Merriam-Webster on retrace

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