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I heard a line in the movie The Humbling of the character played by Al Pacino:

Well, you're the psychiatrist. How does that track with you?

My research doesn't show "track with" is an idiom, and dictionary definitions of track have similar meanings of "follow a path," which doesn't seem to fit here. What does this line mean?

I am putting a one-minute clip containing this line here, via Youtube. Extracting the context is tricky, as the segment cuts back and forth between two different scenes for artistic reasons. Therefore in order to avoid taking things out of context or presenting a confusing clip, I included a little bit of content that takes place before the line.

  • To track with here means: How does that seem to you. – Lambie Apr 15 '18 at 19:03
  • I don't suppose you have a link to the scene so we can understand the full context? Al Pacino's character in this movie is an actor, and "track" may be slang for something in that field. Alternately, he may be sarcastically repeating back some psychology jargon the psychiatrist used in an earlier scene. – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 20:12
  • @Andrew I have just edited the question to include a clip. Thanks for the suggestion! – Eddie Kal Apr 15 '18 at 20:36
  • @L.Moneta Thanks, that helps ... or, at least, it helps explain your confusion, since there's almost no context for the idiom. :) – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 21:17
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I've had a bit of deeper look into this. I found a version of the script (not sure how legal or safe that site is, so venture in at your own risk) and the word track is used three times. Two of those times are not the same as the phrase, so the film gives no previous definition of track to go on.

Initially I thought it might be a term related to the film industry, because Al Pacino is playing a failing/failed actor (Simon Axler). But Simon is a stage actor, not a film star, and the only film reference to track I could find was a "tracking shot" and I couldn't easily turn that into a relevant metaphor.

However, the words "does that track with" do appear in similar situations in various books. A few examples:

The last link there, I think, gives us the best interpretation for what Simon means when he asks "How does that track with you?".

To gain agreement, I ask questions such as:
"Does that make sense?" (my favorite)
"Does that track with your experience?"
"Do you see how this could work for you?"

I think this makes it clear that what Simon is asking his psychiatrist is "does this lesbian flirting with me make sense to you?"

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If something tracks well it keeps to its desired path. As a metaphor, if something tracks well with you, then you view it favourably. If it tracks badly, you don't. The expression is casual, conversational and informal.

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    Not sure why I got a vote down. Care to explain? – Michael Harvey Apr 15 '18 at 20:45
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    Your answer is accurate for one possible meaning of "track", (e.g. on track) but given the lack of context I think it's premature to definitively say that's what it means here. To "track" could also mean to hunt something, or to target it, or simply to follow it. OP has added a short clip with the context of the quote, and my interpretation is quite different from yours. I'm happy to reverse the vote if you edit your answer to reflect the new information. Also I like to add examples to my answers, and explain whether this is common English or some unusual idiomatic expression. – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 21:15
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    Yes, I agree. Also, the tracking used here could be rephrased as, "Does this analysis [a metaphorical train] match what your own [metaphorical tracks] would be?" Also note that "tracking" need not metaphorically refer to a train—but could also refer to something like tracking an objects with your eyes. However, the meaning is the same. Regardless, it's just a way of asking, "Do you agree?" – Jason Bassford Apr 15 '18 at 21:21
  • @JasonBassford You ought to submit that as an answer. – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 22:07
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I agree with a previous answer as it relates to track as a metaphor.

However, a rephrased version of "How does that track with you?" is simply "Do you agree?"

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track with is a fairly recent locution, and in the contexts I've heard it used in, it has meant "to fit or comport with, to jibe or accord with".

How does that track with you?

could be understood as

"How does that jibe with your experience?" and by extension, "What do you make of it?" What do you think about that?

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