Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


 - definitions and thesaurus

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [transitive] trace pronunciation in British English /treɪs/ 
Word Forms
present tense
present participletracing
past tensetraced
past participletraced
  1. 1
    to find someone or something that you are looking for by asking questions and getting information

    Detectives have so far failed to trace the missing woman.

    trace someone to something:

    They finally traced him to a town in Sicily.

    1. a.
      to discover the origin of something or how it developed

      Rita decided to trace her family roots.

      trace something back to something:

      Many phobias can be traced back to childhood experiences.

      trace something to something:

      The bug was traced to milk from a farm in Yorkshire.

      Synonyms and related words for this sense of trace
  2. 2
    to describe what happened in a long process or series of events

    The book traces the history of the regiment.

  3. 3
    to copy an image by putting transparent paper on top and following the lines with your pencil
    Synonyms and related words for this sense of trace
    1. a.
      to move your finger, lips etc along something

      He lifted his hand to trace the line of her cheekbone.

      Synonyms and related words for this sense of trace



web content which is specifically intended to make Facebook users click the 'Like' button associated with it

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone …

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog