a. One who is employed to locate missing goods or persons.
b. An investigation or inquiry organized to trace missing goods or persons.
2. Any of several instruments used in making tracings or in imprinting designs by tracing.
3. A tracer bullet.
4. An identifiable substance, such as a dye or a radioactive isotope, that is introduced into a biological or mechanical system and can be followed through the course of a process, providing information on the pattern of events in the process or on the redistribution of the parts or elements involved. Also called label.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.