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In Arabic we say something like 'there is no trace to him' which I presume is equal to the common English idiom or phrase 'nowhere to be found'. However, I was just wondering if the word 'traceless' would be an appropriate fit here?.

I've looked the word up and the simple definition self-evidently is: Traceless - having or leaving no trace.

The thing is there isn't a sufficient sum of detail, examples or even different ways the word is exercised.

My inquiry is could one say, 'He is traceless' or something along those lines. I know it sounds very infrequent and hyperbolic, but I've discussed its probable usage in this manner with a few people and I've received mixed responses. Thankyou

  • One possibility is "He has disappeared without trace". I think you need to give an actual scenario and sentence to show how you want to use the term. – chasly from UK Nov 7 '15 at 16:01
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You can say there is no trace of him, meaning that he is nowhere to be found.

But generally, the adjective traceless is applied to actions, and not people. You can say that a poisoning was traceless, meaning that it left no evidence that proved the death was caused by poison. But you would say that a murderer was untraceable.

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Yes, you can say "He is traceless", meaning that he generally leaves no trace (e.g., of his whereabouts or where he goes).

The key here is generally: you are attributing the quality of tracelessness to him; you are not just saying that in some particular circumstance he has left no trace. What you are suggesting is that in general, he cannot be traced.

But people generally do not say that.

If you want to refer to a particular disappearance then it would be more common to say "He left no trace" or "There is no trace of the route he took". And if you really want to say that he cannot be traced, in general, then just say that: "He is difficult to trace." (or to follow).

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"Traceless" is an adjective and "nowhere to be seen" an adverbial phrase. I wouldn't, therefore, substitute one for the other. Instead of "traceless", which sounds clumsy to me, I would use "no vestige of his presence".

"vestige" - a mark, trace, or visible evidence of something that is no longer present or in existence.

Origin - late Middle English: from French, from Latin vestigium 'footprint'.

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While "traceless" and "nowhere to be found" could mean the same thing, in US English, they are NOT exactly equivalent. "Traceless" is a good equivalent for how you have stated the Arabic usage, i.e. "there is no trace of him". I think it is easy to visualize this usage. When a man walks, he leaves a trace, or tracks. I see a beach, and sand, with footprints. However, "nowhere to be found" does not indicate any seeking of a trail or tracks, it is only applicable to the person. As I say this, I feel it sounds technical, yet the difference could be significant. If I look for a person, and I find some evidence of that person's passing, I have found a trace. That person is not traceless. Yet, if I have not found the person, the person is still "nowhere to be found".

Still, the important distinction is that "nowhere to be found" does not indicate any search for tracks or a trace. It just indicates that the subject could not be found. "Leaving no trace" indicates a search for evidence that something, or someone, has passed this way.

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