According to Collins Dictionary:

If you track down someone or something, you find them, or find information about them, after a difficult or long search.

Now, I want to put some more emphasis in the phrase. Can I say:

We have to track adequately down to the original source.

  • You can, you have, but with 'adequately' in that position it does little for the sentence, and I am left wandering what it is that has to be tracked down, adequately or otherwise. – Trevor Christopher Butcher Nov 6 '18 at 10:28
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    You can only put the object being tracked down in the middle. Not an adverb. You can track Jason down, but not track quickly down Jason. Adverbs have to fall outside the verb and object combination, however it is patched together. quickly track down Jason, track down Jason quickly, quickly track Jason down, track Jason down quickly. – Phil Sweet Nov 6 '18 at 13:30
  • @PhilSweet What about "track down to the original source"? – Sasan Nov 6 '18 at 17:02

"We have to track it down" (or, in an alternative form, "We have to track down the source [of the drug trafficking, of the pollution, etc.]") is about as emphatic as you can get without being redundant.

Per the Collin's Dictionary definition, "track down" already specifies a long and difficult search. Other sources define it similarly, such as the American Heritage Dictionary:

To pursue until found or captured: tracked him down at the pub

and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

to search for by following evidence until found // track down the source

Based on the above definitions, I would argue that including "adequately" is redundant; if you don't track something down adequately, you most likely haven't actually tracked it down.

Similarly, "to the original source" is redundant because source itself is typically defined as the origin or the beginning.


A search of the synonyms of emphasize or to focus on reveals among others:

prioritize Collins Dictionary

If you prioritize something, you treat it as more important than other things.

Thus I suggest your question be worded as:

We have to give priority to tracking this down to the original source.

There are many other possible vigorous(ly) replacements for adequate.

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