rel·​ic | \ ˈre-lik How to pronounce relic (audio) \

Definition of relic

1a : an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr
2 relics plural : remains, corpse
3 : a survivor or remnant left after decay, disintegration, or disappearance
4 : a trace of some past or outmoded practice, custom, or belief

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Synonyms for relic


echo, ghost, shadow, trace, vestige

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Examples of relic in a Sentence

a crude stone ax and other relics of the Neanderthals in my grandparents' attic are many “groovy” relics from the 1960s

Recent Examples on the Web

The German apprenticeship system, a relic of medieval guilds and tightly regulated by the German government and trade unions, is designed to offer such alternatives. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "Looking for an Alternative to College? U.S. Studies German Apprenticeships," 29 Dec. 2018 While this architecture remains a relic of turbulent times, it has been reborn with advertisements of Djokovic posing with his trophies. Alyson Krueger, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Novak Djokovic Is Helping Turn Belgrade, Serbia Into Your Next Destination," 25 July 2018 To protect these relics of history, more than 200,000 acres have been set aside as the White Mountain Wild Horse Territory, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Ernie Cowan,, "Wonders await in the White Mountains," 16 June 2018 There’s no reason to cling to relics of the past when innovation is a hallmark of our national identity. Nathan Sproul, Fortune, "How Relying on Oil Makes Us More Vulnerable to Cyberattacks," 10 May 2018 For these reasons, Frank and Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at Goddard and the paper's co-author, focus on the possibility of finding chemical relics of an ancient terrestrial civilization. NBC News, "Did another advanced species exist on Earth before humans?," 30 Apr. 2018 The baseball nickname, a relic of the days when sports was still fun and information was slow, still clings to life. Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-News, "Great baseball nicknames now seen only once in a Blue Moon (Odom)," 4 Mar. 2018 For Black History Month, the National Archives teamed up with Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to put out a call for relics pertaining to African American history. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "In Honor of Black History Month, Cultural Institutions Are Sharing Archival Treasures," 5 Feb. 2018 The New York State Pavilion, Queens, NY, 1964 The bizarre relic in Flushing Meadows is like nothing else in Johnson’s catalog. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "Arbiter of taste, enfant terrible: The best and worst of Philip Johnson," 6 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'relic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of relic

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for relic

Middle English relik, from Anglo-French relike, from Medieval Latin reliquia, from Late Latin reliquiae, plural, remains of a martyr, from Latin, remains, from relinquere to leave behind — more at relinquish

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for relic

The first known use of relic was in the 13th century

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English Language Learners Definition of relic

: something that is from a past time, place, culture, etc.
: an object (such as a piece of clothing or the bone of a saint) that is considered holy


rel·​ic | \ ˈre-lik How to pronounce relic (audio) \

Kids Definition of relic

1 : something left behind after decay or disappearance They uncovered relics of an ancient city.
2 : an object that is considered holy because of its connection with a saint or martyr

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More from Merriam-Webster on relic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with relic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relic

Spanish Central: Translation of relic

Nglish: Translation of relic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relic for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about relic

Comments on relic

What made you want to look up relic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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