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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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 relics are still in Bari’s San Nicola basilica. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Call It a Crime of Pasta," 7 Dec. 2019 The relics are still in Bari’s San Nicola basilica., "The scene — the grannies, the handmade pasta, the curved stone street — evoked the southern Italy of popular imagination.," 7 Dec. 2019 The first relic, the Kusanagi no Tsurugi sword, is actually a replica of one believed to be in the Atsuta shrine in Nagoya. Peter Mikelbank,, "Japan Celebrates Emperor Naruhito’s Enthronement with the Ultimate Royal Guest List!," 22 Oct. 2019 The law, a relic of British rule enacted in 1922 to quell a seamen strike and last used to crush riots in 1967, gives broad powers to the city's chief executive to implement regulations in an emergency. Fox News, "Hong Kong’s Lam bans masks in hardening stance on protests," 4 Oct. 2019 The law, a relic of British rule enacted in 1922 to quell a seamen's strike and last used to crush riots in 1967, gives broad powers to the city's chief executive to implement regulations in an emergency., "Thousands protest mask ban as Hong Kong leader toughens stance," 4 Oct. 2019 Fortunately for mankind, this leftover relic from the Pleistocene epoch of the Cenozoic Era is completely isolated to the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia, and approximately 50 zoos and conservation and research institutes around the world. Evan Dudley, al, "The truth behind why having komodo dragon at UAB games is a very bad idea," 24 Sep. 2019 When Cornell’s nephew donated his uncle’s file to the library in 2014, among the train tickets, Hershey’s wrappers and, strangely, leaves, were also relics from his friendship with Saint-Exupéry. Sam Spengler, Smithsonian, "The Beloved Classic Novel “The Little Prince” Turns 75 Years Old," 3 Apr. 2018 The installation is meant to suggest a future relic, like a contemporary Pompeii, and alludes to Miami’s fragile position in the large universal canvas, touching on climate crisis and rising sea levels. USA TODAY, "First Spouse Dolls, Snowstang, sand sculpture: News from around our 50 states," 7 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for relic

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

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Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Relic.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for relic


How to pronounce relic (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to insert between existing elements

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