trace back(redirected from trace something back)
1. To derive or originate from someone, something, or some place. The powerful corporation traces back nearly 200 years to a small manufacturing company in New York City. Investigators discovered that the drug money traced back to a US senator.
2. To discover the point of origin of someone or something by following a trail of information or series of events backward. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "trace" and "back." We were able to trace the assassination attempt back to a cartel in Mexico. Make sure you only pay in cash, as the police can trace back exactly where and when you use your card.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. To ascertain the successive stages in the development or progress of something by reasoning backward from an effect to a cause: We traced our family history back 200 years. Skepticism as a philosophical movement can be traced back to Sextus Empiricus.
2. To derive from something or someone: The counterfeit drugs traced back to an American expatriate. Many English words trace back to Greek or Latin.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.