More Words Drawn from “Trahere”

By Mark Nichol

A recent post explored tract and other words derived from the Latin verb trahere (“draw”) that are based on tract. Here, other words stemming from trahere that do not build on tract are listed and defined.

The descendant of trahere that most closely resembles tract is trace. To trace is to discover or follow, to form or imprint, or to copy or record. A trace is a path or line (or a geometrical intersection), a barely detectable or measurable amount or a vestige of something, or a marking or plan. Someone or something that traces is a tracer, such as a substance that enables observers to chart a process or the progress of a condition in a medical patient; a tracer bullet is ammunition that gives off light or smoke to mark its path, helping the gunner determine accuracy of aim.

To trail is to extend or hang down, to carry, drag, or tow, to lag behind, straggle, or plod, to dwindle, or to pursue prey. A trail is a course or path or a sign of progress along a course or path
portray, such as a mark or a scent. It may also refer literally to something that is or appears to be drawn along or figuratively to an aftermath. Something that trails is a trailer, such as a vehicle that carries cargo or another vehicle or serves as a temporary shelter. In filmmaking, a trailer is an extra length of film attached at the end of a reel of footage or, counterintuitively, a short selection of footage from a film or television program that serves as a preview.

Treat, from trahere by way of tractare, which came to mean “conduct oneself” or “manage,” means “bargain,” “negotiate,” or “deal with.” Extending the sense of “deal with,” treat also came to refer to medical attention, and from the other senses it eventually applied to food or drink offered to others. That sense resulted in the use of treat to refer to a delicacy (as in the Halloween expression “Trick or treat”) and, by extension, a pleasant experience. The noun treatment pertains to how something is managed or how one behaves toward someone or something, or to medical attention. (A medical condition is called treatable or untreatable based on whether there is a cure for it.) To maltreat or mistreat is to abuse; the noun forms are maltreatment and mistreatment. Meanwhile, a treatise is a methodical argument or exposition that treats, or deals, with a topic, and a treaty is a document that details an agreement resulting from negotiation.

Entreat means “plead,” from the sense of negotiation; an act of pleading is called an entreaty and the notion of doing so is entreatment. To retreat is to draw back, literally or figuratively, and a retreat is such a movement, or an event at which one withdraws from one’s daily routine to study or reflect.

American English directly borrowed trattoria, an Italian word for a small restaurant, to refer to such establishments, usually ones featuring Italian cuisine, in the United States; the word stems from the French verb traitier (meaning “treat”), which derives from tractare.

To train (from trahere by way of traginare) is to literally or figurative draw along by directing, instructing, or teaching, or to subject oneself to such actions. One may train an aiming device at a target or objective, and train can also mean simply “drag.” A train is one or more of various things (or people) drawn by something else. It can consist of one or more connected vehicles drawn along a road or a railway by an engine, or simply a moving line of vehicles (or people or animals); it can also refer to a group of followers or attendants. (To entrain is to board a railroad train.) Train might also pertain to support vehicles and personnel for a military unit detailed for combat, to a series of mechanical parts that enable motion or a literal or figurative equivalent for achieving results, or to an order of occurrence or a succession of thoughts or actions. A train is also that part of a gown fashioned to trail along behind the person wearing it.

One who trains is a trainer, and one who is trained is a trainee. Someone or something that can be trained is trainable, and the antonym is untrainable. (Something not or not yet trained is untrained.) To retrain is to train again, and training is both a verb referring to the action and a noun referring to the act or process (as well as an adjective).

Portray (literally, “draw forth”) means “draw” or “paint”; the result is a portrait. (Both words also refer, by extension, to any characterization or description of one or more people.) Portraiture is the act of making portraits, though the word may also be synonymous with portrait.

Trait, derived from trahere by way of tractare, means “characteristic” or “quality” or, less commonly, a stroke or trail. (Traitor is unrelated; it stems from tradere, meaning “deliver,” and is therefore related to trade.)


4 Responses to “More Words Drawn from “Trahere””

  • D.A.W.

    Since “trahere” means “draw”, and hence are derived the words “trail” and “trailer”, I have long understood that a “movie trailer” had the intention of “drawing in” audiences for future movies. To “draw in” people who might be interested, or gullible people, or just dopes, to spend more money at the movie theaters.
    I’m the type that when I saw a trailer for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Wall Street”, or “Fatal Attraction”, I said to myself “That’s what I want to see!”
    Then there are other trailers that are just repulsive.

  • D.A.W.

    Meat and fish receive treatments – some dating back to ancient times – to preserve them and incidentally to make them taste better:
    salting, smoking, drying, pickling, canning:
    salted pork, beef, and fish; smoked fish; dried jerky; pickled herring and gefilte fish; canned tuna and corned beef.
    Treatments, treatments!

  • D.A.W.

    Drinking water usually receives a treatment with chlorine and/or ozone (O3) to kill the bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in it. Such treatment is vastly important to public health.
    The treatment of pasteurization is done to milk for exactly the same reasons, and homogenization breaks up clusters of milkfat into tiny particles.
    Milk often receives a treatment with ultraviolet rays to increase the vitamin D in it, and also to kill bacteria and viruses.
    In some places like hospitals and clinics, the same kind of UV rays are used to treat the air – to kill random microorganisms that are floating around, and especially malicious ones: those that cause influenza, herpes, the common cold, pneumonia, strep throat, diphtheria, AIDS, etc.

  • D.A.W.

    “The noun treatment pertains to…”
    also, important processes in materials engineering, in foods, and in liquids. Metals and metal objects receive treatments such a). heating them up, keeping them hot for a while, and then cooling them down slowly, b). heating them up and then quenching them in water, c). hammering on them or “forging” them with elaborate tools.
    Leather receives all sorts of elaborate treatments, usually with chemicals.
    Cocoa receives a treatment with an alkali (such as lye) to make it smooth, tasty, and easy to preserve. What actually happens is that hydroxyl radicals from the alkali get attached to the molecules of fat in the cocoa. The same kind of process is used for making soap, too!

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