rel·​ic | \ ˈre-lik \

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

However slim, there's at least a small chance that 2022 will bring jarringly suggestive evidence that 'Oumuamua is an artificial relic. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Nailing down the nature of ‘Oumuamua—it’s probably a comet, but…," 29 Nov. 2018 The son of India’s emperor Ashoka brought Buddhism to the island in the third century B.C. He and subsequent visitors brought holy objects and relics (most famously a tooth purported to be the Buddha’s). Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "‘The Jeweled Isle: Art From Sri Lanka’ Review: Reclaiming a Country’s Creative History," 1 Jan. 2019 Eyelash curlers first hit the market sometime in the 1920s or 1930s, but seem like a museum relic today with so many curl-enhancing formulas that don’t make lashes go limp. Kellie Ell, Glamour, "Social Media Is Killing Mascara," 28 Nov. 2018 Nearly a half-century of neglect reduced the one-time tourist draw to a decaying relic. Bruce Schreiner, The Seattle Times, "Newcomers bring decaying Kentucky distillery back to life," 18 Sep. 2018 The aliens dot a massive battleground with relics stolen from nine Earth eras, then let humanoid super-soldiers battle it out for their own amusement. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "As PUBG-like contenders emerge, Islands of Nyne might already have them beat," 16 July 2018 The novel is heavy on exposition and foreshadowing, also perhaps relics best left behind. Sophie Haigney,, "‘The Removes,’ by Tatjana Soli," 21 June 2018 Established in 1819, its collection contains relics from the American Revolution, the Titanic (currently on loan to the Smithsonian Museum), as well as items from ancient civilizations. Elizabeth Heubeck,, "Freemasons' Bonnie Blink sits on a hill in Cockeysville, caters to elderly residents," 20 June 2018 But nameplate accessories certainly aren’t ancient relics. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "The cultural appropriation debate has changed. But is it for the better?," 18 Dec. 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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relic area



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Last Updated

20 Jan 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 \

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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