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

Definition of retrace

transitive verb

: to trace (something) again or back: such as
a : 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.
b : 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
c : to discover the origin or early history of (something) by going back over previous steps retrace (the origin of) a word to German
d : 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
e : 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

Other Words from retrace

retraceability \ (ˌ)rē-​ˌtrā-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce retrace (audio) \ noun
retraceable \ (ˌ)rē-​ˈtrā-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce retrace (audio) \ adjective
a series of easily retraceable steps

First Known Use of retrace

1594, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for retrace

Time Traveler

The first known use of retrace was in 1594

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Cite this Entry

“Retrace.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of retrace

: to go back along the same course, path, etc., that you or someone else has taken earlier
: to find out about and describe (someone's past movements or actions)


re·​trace | \ rē-ˈtrās \
retraced; retracing

Kids Definition of retrace

: to go over once more Claudia … grabbed Kevin's hand and started retracing her steps …— E. L. Konigsburg, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

More from Merriam-Webster on retrace

Nglish: Translation of retrace for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retrace for Arabic Speakers

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