rel·​ic ˈre-lik How to pronounce relic (audio)
: an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr
relics plural : remains, corpse
: a survivor or remnant left after decay, disintegration, or disappearance
: a trace of some past or outmoded practice, custom, or belief

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 Bygone relics, like a sign touting CocaCola for 5 cents, remain, but in the last decade, its population has doubled, and over the next decade, it’s expected to double again. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, 16 Sep. 2023 Valak, the Vatican archivist (Peter Hudson) informs Irene, appears to be making its way across Europe and is now in France, where the malevolent entity seems to be in pursuit of a powerful (and grisly) religious relic. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 The relic will be hosted in parishes, schools and prisons in numerous Catholic dioceses spanning most of the country, including Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Texas, and Oregon, and California. Camille Fine, USA TODAY, 4 Sep. 2023 More coverage of the Georgia case: Trump’s mug shot is an instant American political relic. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 25 Aug. 2023 But Mapping Ancient Athens turns the whole city into a kind of exploded museum, with every shop and corner harboring relics from a vanished world. Nick Romeo, The New Yorker, 22 Aug. 2023 He’s chosen to become a symbiotic host to an ancient alien biotech relic that turns him into the superhero known as Blue Beetle. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 16 Aug. 2023 The iconic Hoberman Arch, a prominent relic of Utah’s 2002 Winter Olympics, is installed at Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. Blake Apgar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Aug. 2023 His gun store is in a former fitness center that's been converted into retail space, a gunsmith workshop and a museum of military relics from his service and dating back to the Revolutionary War. John Diedrich, Journal Sentinel, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'relic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near relic

Cite this Entry

“Relic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


rel·​ic ˈrel-ik How to pronounce relic (audio)
: an object treated with great respect because of its connection with a saint or martyr
: something left behind after decay or disappearance
relics of ancient cities

More from Merriam-Webster on relic

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