A trace of something is just a hint or suggestion of it, a very small amount left behind — like the sad cookie crumbs at the bottom of an empty cookie jar.

There are more meanings we can trace to this word trace. As a verb, trace means to follow the course or trail of something, sometimes even chasing or hunting it. It also means to draw or sketch over a picture on translucent "tracing paper." So you could say that Sherlock Holmes traced criminals throughout London, following even the smallest traces of evidence and tracing copies of the villain's notes for his files.

Definitions of trace
  1. noun
    an indication that something has been present
    “there wasn't a trace of evidence for the claim”
    synonyms: shadow, tincture, vestige
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    a trace suggesting that something was once present or felt or otherwise important
    type of:
    indicant, indication
    something that serves to indicate or suggest
  2. noun
    a just detectable amount
    “he speaks French with a trace of an accent”
    synonyms: hint, suggestion
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    a small but noticeable trace of some quality that might become stronger
    type of:
    small indefinite amount, small indefinite quantity
    an indefinite quantity that is below average size or magnitude
  3. noun
    a suggestion of some quality
    synonyms: ghost, touch
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    a suggestion of some quality
    type of:
    proffer, proposition, suggestion
    a proposal offered for acceptance or rejection
  4. verb
    follow, discover, or ascertain the course of development of something
    trace the student's progress”
    synonyms: follow
    follow, keep abreast, keep up
    keep informed
    follow, keep an eye on, observe, watch, watch over
    follow with the eyes or the mind
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    type of:
    analyse, analyze, canvas, canvass, delve, examine, parse, study
    consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning
  5. verb
    discover traces of
    “She traced the circumstances of her birth”
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    type of:
    detect, discover, find, notice, observe
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
  6. verb
    read with difficulty
    “The archeologist traced the hieroglyphs”
    synonyms: decipher
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    type of:
    interpret something that is written or printed
  7. noun
    a visible mark (as a footprint) left by the passage of person or animal or vehicle
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    type of:
    mark, print
    a visible indication made on a surface
  8. verb
    make one's course or travel along a path; travel or pass over, around, or along
    “The children traced along the edge of the dark forest”
    “The women traced the pasture”
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    type of:
    continue, go forward, proceed
    move ahead; travel onward in time or space
  9. verb
    go back over again
    trace your path”
    synonyms: retrace
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    type of:
    go or come back to place, condition, or activity where one has been before
  10. verb
    pursue or chase relentlessly
    “The hunters traced the deer into the woods”
    synonyms: hound, hunt
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    hound or harry relentlessly
    type of:
    chase, chase after, dog, give chase, go after, tag, tail, track, trail
    go after with the intent to catch
  11. noun
    a drawing created by superimposing a semitransparent sheet of paper on the original image and copying on it the lines of the original image
    synonyms: tracing
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    type of:
    a representation of forms or objects on a surface by means of lines
  12. verb
    make a mark or lines on a surface
    trace the outline of a figure in the sand”
    synonyms: delineate, describe, draw, line
    engage in drawing
    represent by making a drawing of, as with a pencil, chalk, etc. on a surface
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    draw with suitable instruments and under specified conditions
    draw within a figure so as to touch in as many places as possible
    draw a line around
    draw a geometric figure around another figure so that the two are in contact but do not intersect
    mark or trace on a surface
    make a dot or dots
    write in shorthand
    write beautifully and ornamentally
    trace a line through or across
    write on the outside or upper part of
    write on the top or outside
    capitalise, capitalize
    write in capital letters
    mark letters on or mark with letters
    write as if with print; not cursive
    scrawl, scribble
    write carelessly
    copy down as is
    impress, print
    reproduce by printing
    type of:
    make or leave a mark on
  13. verb
    copy by following the lines of the original drawing on a transparent sheet placed upon it; make a tracing of
    trace a design”
    trace a pattern”
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    type of:
    copy, re-create
    make a replica of
  14. noun
    either of two lines that connect a horse's harness to a wagon or other vehicle or to a whiffletree
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    type of:
    something (as a cord or rope) that is long and thin and flexible
Word Family

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