a. A mark or succession of marks left by something that has passed.
b. A path, route, or course indicated by such marks: an old wagon track through the mountains.
2. A path along which something moves; a course: following the track of an airplane on radar.
a. A course of action; a method of proceeding: on the right track for solving the puzzle.
b. An intended or proper course: putting a stalled project back on track.
4. A succession of ideas; a train of thought.
5. Awareness of something occurring or passing: keeping track of the score; lost all track of time.
a. A course laid out for running or racing.
b. Athletic competition on such a course; track events.
c. Track and field.
7. A rail or set of parallel rails upon which railroad cars or other vehicles run.
8. tracks The boundary, formerly often delineated by train tracks, that separates two neighborhoods of different social class: grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.
9. Either of the continuous metal belts with which vehicles such as bulldozers and tanks move over the ground.
10. A metal groove or ridge that holds, guides, and reduces friction for a moving device or apparatus.
11. Any of several courses of study to which students are assigned according to ability, achievement, or needs: academic, vocational, and general tracks.
a. A distinct path, as along a length of film or magnetic tape, on which sound, images, or other information is recorded.
b. A distinct selection from an audio or video recording, usually containing an individual work or part of a larger work: the title track of an album.
c. One of two or more separate recordings that are combined so as to be replayed simultaneously, as in stereophonic sound reproduction: mixed the vocal track and instrumental track.
a. One of the concentric magnetic rings that form the separate data storage areas on a floppy disk or a hard disk.
b. A set of digital data encoded consecutively on an optical disc.
14. tracks Slang Needle marks on the skin from multiple intravenous injections, considered an indication of habitual drug use.
v. tracked, track·ing, tracks
1. To follow the tracks of; trail: tracking game through the forest.
a. To leave marks made of (dirt or mud, for example) on a surface: The dog tracked mud on the rug.
b. To leave marks on (a floor, for example) when moving or traversing: You're tracking up my nice clean floor!
a. To observe or monitor the course of (an aircraft, for example), as by radar.
b. To observe the progress of; follow: tracking the company's performance daily.
c. To determine or discover the location or origin of: tracked the money to an offshore account.
4. To equip with a track.
5. To assign (a student) to a curricular track.
1. To follow a course; travel: The storm is tracking up the coast.
a. To keep a constant distance apart. Used of a pair of wheels.
b. To be in alignment: The gears are not tracking properly.
a. To follow the undulations in the groove of a phonograph record. Used of a needle.
b. To move across magnetic heads. Used of magnetic tape.
4. To move in relation to a subject being filmed. Used of a camera or camera crew.
To pursue until found or captured: tracked him down at the pub.
in (one's) tracks
Exactly where one is standing: stopped him right in his tracks.
[Middle English trak, from Old French trac, perhaps of Germanic origin.]
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.