Definition of retrace in English:



[with object]
  • 1Go back over (the same route that one has just taken)

    ‘he began to retrace his steps to the station car park’
    • ‘Then suddenly they turn as if they are going to retrace the way they came.’
    • ‘There was no surge of adrenalin, as Deidre turned around and wearily retraced her steps.’
    • ‘Then they passed over a brick bridge that must have been more than a mile long and Bligh knew that they could no longer be retracing their route from the capital.’
    • ‘He exited the servant's room, and crept his way down the hall, retracing the same routes he usually took when wandering at night.’
    • ‘In A Survivor's Story, she retraces the route of their 1,000 mile journey from Poland to Germany.’
    • ‘I want you to hold my hand, and we're going to try retracing our steps until I can find some friends that can help us.’
    • ‘The idea of returning the way I had come was rejected - I have a profound dislike of retracing my steps - so the one option left open to me was the South Ridge Route.’
    • ‘As the river twists and sometimes retraces its route, the vineyards are at their steepest on the outer edge of the curve.’
    • ‘Some nights when I cannot sleep I retrace in my mind some of my favorite walks through the city.’
    • ‘The uneasiness grew into a formless apprehension, which drew him out into the waxing sunlight and drove him to retrace his earlier route through the meadow, towards College Rise.’
    • ‘See how far you can get in your chosen time, stop and rest 2-5 minutes, then turn around, reset the clock and retrace your route.’
    • ‘In spite of his recent scare, he decided to retrace his steps and try this route again.’
    • ‘She tried focusing her thoughts on retracing the steps she had taken into the estate that evening, so that she could find a quick exit.’
    • ‘For a couple of years he retraced the route through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Florida that he and his father had taken several years before.’
    • ‘For three agonizing hours, they trekked on, knowing full well that they were just retracing their steps.’
    • ‘For me, the slow pace of our walk had not just meant taking in all that I came across, but also trying to retrace those steps I had taken with my grandfather.’
    • ‘‘I know that we saved his life only because we were able to accurately retrace our route and used the silent search and spotlight technique,’ Loui says.’
    • ‘Before he called Frankie, Leo took a drive, retracing the route he and the other two had taken through the dark a week before.’
    • ‘So does this have something to do with Theseus in the labyrinth, having slain the Minotaur, retracing his steps with Ariadne's thread?’
    • ‘After the last showing at the cinemas, when the back roads were quiet, Bill retraced our route along Jingle Pot Road.’
    1. 1.1 Discover and follow (a route taken by someone else)
      ‘I've tried to retrace some of her movements’
      • ‘Starting with his persona's acute consciousness of exile, Wright's poetic journeys retrace and reverse the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas.’
      • ‘Over the last couple of years, I've had the great pleasure of retracing the route Lewis and Clark took to the Pacific.’
      • ‘Sailing up the Eastern coastline, retracing Cook's route in a reproduction of Cook's ship proved a strange and moving experience.’
      • ‘In her later travels she visited Dove Cottage, retraced Wordsworth's walks, and wrote about him and his sister.’
      • ‘Frustrated by the slow and inconclusive police investigation, the victim's brother, Cliff, retraces the delivery route in search of clues.’
      • ‘They retraced the way Tari went, into the village square.’
      • ‘Our hopes were high as we left Esperance the next day, retracing the 1931 party's route in reverse.’
      • ‘Grann's article describes a retracing of Fawcett's route undertaken earlier this year, with the aid of modern motor vehicles and aluminum boats.’
      • ‘They even retraced the route he would have taken on his bike to deliver newspapers.’
      • ‘King also journeyed by camel and Land Rover through the Sahara, retracing the stumbling meanderings of the mariners, and verifying historical and geographical details.’
      • ‘She spent a year retracing the journey of Burke and Wills in a four-wheel drive.’
      • ‘He tried to repair England's reputation abroad by alliances with Brittany, Burgundy, and Scotland, and also by retracing the steps of previous kings to France.’
      • ‘In retracing Hegel's itinerary he is in a way making it less idiosyncratic, less the vision of a lone philosopher, and more a familiar sight.’
      • ‘But the very project of retracing a journey taken by one or more previous travelers remains citational from the start.’
      • ‘It's the 43rd annual Good Friday procession in Little Italy, officially titled The Passion and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ but known to most as The Way of the Cross, which retraces Jesus' steps to Golgotha, where he was crucified.’
      • ‘Her second journey retraced Salvatore Rosa's own trip from Rome to Ancona through the Umbrian landscape in the 1600s.’
      • ‘The film retraces much of Che's journey, the camera wandering through desolate valleys and rocky cliffs while Che's words are read on the soundtrack.’
      • ‘The NRG staged a march the day before Bogside, retracing the route of the original civil rights march in 1968 from Dungannon to Coalisland.’
      • ‘Francis Harper completed Bartram's scientific descriptions and, retracing the travels, published the landmark naturalist's edition of the Travels.’
      • ‘They were retracing the route that originally took their explorers to Kantus, the first inhabited planet Earth had ever come in contact with besides their own.’
    2. 1.2 Trace (something) back to its source or beginning.
      ‘I wanted to retrace a particular evolutionary pathway’
      • ‘To grasp the distinctive character of Art Since 1900, it is worth briefly retracing the evolution of Krauss's ideas.’
      • ‘Absorbing and retracing my history, memories of the special, never forgotten days, when our family made the crossing over the lagoon to the hummocks beyond.’
      • ‘To understand this, we have to retrace some of the arguments.’
      • ‘And it is not possible to retrace all the steps that led towards this finality - like running a movie backwards.’
      • ‘From the Venus of Milo to Francis Bacon, Ferry illustrates with great clarity the various steps that retrace Hegel's historical and encyclopedic construction of the concept of taste up to our day.’
      • ‘In his new book, The English Room, Chippy Irvine explores the history of English living, retracing how the country's homes and interiors have developed over the centuries.’
      • ‘According to Bono the theme of the video is loosely based around scenes from his youth and retracing them, but more than this it is a ‘tribute to my old-man Bob.’’
      • ‘Chapter 4 also retraces the fascinating, albeit largely forgotten, story of the federal government's attempts to promote complete car manufacture through legislative enactment.’
      • ‘Through revealing portraits of the five monarchs, the programme retraces recent political history and provides a unique insight into this complex tribal nation.’
      • ‘Before looking at his recent work, it is worth briefly retracing Anuszkiewicz's history.’
      • ‘For me, as a pure movie fan, the exploitation genre was just a welcome wake-up call, a chance to retrace the past and reconnect with an important lost artifact.’
      • ‘He returns to his childhood in Littlestone-on-Sea, the Mixed Room at the golf club and finds happiness and comfort in retracing his youth and his days in the army.’
      • ‘The narrator reconstitutes the life of Emily L. by retracing the major and minor traumas she has experienced since her youth.’
      • ‘The first story tells of two middleaged women retracing childhood steps to confront their demons, as fact and memory merge.’
      • ‘It seemed possible to retrace the city's architectural history on almost any downtown walk, traveling back 150 years decade by decade, block by block.’
      • ‘This New Year, you might find him reflecting on his return to the Irish market, retracing his childhood holidays along a beach in Clew Bay, in the shadow of Croagh Patrick.’
      • ‘Their stories tell of displacement, of the struggle to restore the frayed fabric of a collective history, to retrace threads that have been lost and unravelled.’
      • ‘Young, though, does not seem as interested in retracing or reclaiming his familial roots as experiencing the natural world.’
      • ‘Here is this woman retracing the reigning concepts of her life - what a mother is, what a child, a home, a husband are, what happiness is - and yet this man stupefyingly asks her whether she will be happy.’
      • ‘I wish to retrace briefly how this project came into being.’


Late 17th century: from French retracer.