trace back

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trace 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.
See also: back, trace

trace back

v.
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.
See also: back, trace
References in periodicals archive ?
When the store's owner, Brian Borgelt, was questioned by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation's gun laws, he claimed not to have known the gun was missing until authorities traced it back to his store.