trace verb

1 find out where sth is/where it comes from

ADV. successfully

VERB + TRACE be able/unable to, can Police have been unable to trace her movements during her final days. | attempt to, try to | help (to) | fail to | be difficult to | be possible to

PREP. to The stolen paintings have been successfully traced to a London warehouse.

2 find/describe the cause/origin of sth

ADV. carefully | easily Words have over the centuries acquired meanings not easily traced in dictionaries. | directly | historically | back

VERB + TRACE can | attempt to, try to | be difficult to The origins of the custom are difficult to trace. | be possible to

PREP. to The book traces the history of the game back to an incident in 1863.

3 mark where the line of sth is with a thin object

ADV. lightly

PREP. with She lightly traced the outline of his face with her finger.