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


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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 One day in the future, in my opinion, chronological age will become irrelevant, and thus age discrimination will be a relic from the past. Alex Zhavoronkov, Forbes, "Women In Longevity – Bringing Science Of Aging To Aesthetic Medicine Dr. Stephanie Manson Brown," 27 Apr. 2021 Northwestern professor of South Asian history Rajeev Kinra said relying on religion to help make policy decisions is a relic of British colonial powers. John Byrne,, "Symbolic city council resolution addressing tensions in India arrives at vote, after months of negotiation and pushback," 24 Mar. 2021 California growers are now arguing that the regulation, which allows organizers to enter their property to meet with workers during lunch hour and for one hour before and after their shifts, is a relic of the pre-digital era. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Cesar Chavez’s Labor Organizing Legacy at Stake in Supreme Court Case," 21 Mar. 2021 Barely 16 months on, elections in any meaningful sense of the word look to soon be a relic of the past in Hong Kong. Mary Hui, Quartz, "China has a gift for Hong Kong: authoritarian elections," 9 Mar. 2021 Congress' failure to recognize women's achievements is a relic of an unequal past. Star Tribune, "U.S. women deserve a federal public holiday," 24 Feb. 2021 The Warriors now hold possession of the relic, an old fungo bat used and previously owned by late Orioles coach and manager Cal Ripken Sr. Randy Mcroberts,, "Siano pitches, hits Havre de Grace to win over Aberdeen in Cal Ripkien Sr. ‘Fungo’ baseball game," 16 Apr. 2021 The prototype sneakers are a relic of a creative partnership that no longer exists, with Yeezy transferring its operational empire from Nike to Adidas in 2013. Leah Dolan, CNN, "Kanye West's $1M Yeezys may be the world's most expensive sneakers," 14 Apr. 2021 Arnold, who is 64, is something of a relic himself. Washington Post, "Could GoFundMe campaigns save our cultural collections? Las Vegas’s Pinball Hall of Fame is banking on it.," 26 Feb. 2021

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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Statistics for relic

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Relic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for relic



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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