rel·ic | \ˈre-lik \

Definition of relic 

1a : an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr

b : souvenir, memento

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

For my family, Model T’s are not just relics of the past. Casey Williams,, "Driving the Ford Model T through 110 years of American audacity," 3 July 2018 On the sleepy main drag, Stewart Avenue, worn facades announce three fishing-supply shops, a gun store and a couple of restaurants that look like relics of the Johnson administration. Elizabeth Dunn, WSJ, "A Stress-Free Summer Weekend in the Catskills," 15 June 2018 Photography by Aurélien Aumond In a series of photographs by French lensman Aurélien Aumond, strange, futuristic buildings appear to sprout up from an expanse of grass, like relics of a past-future era. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Futuroscope is the wicked-cool theme park you’ve never heard of," 30 May 2018 These days, the focus is the television, not the wondrous relics from the Costello’s era hidden around the building: a metal cash register, a tin ceiling, rusty filing cabinets, a set of fluorescent lights, a tall safe with a combination dial. Alex Vadukul, New York Times, "The Sistine Chapel of Comic-Strip Art," 11 May 2018 The practice of forcing Indigenous youth to assimilate isn’t a relic of the past, however. Adrienne Keene, Teen Vogue, "Colorado State University Tour Incident Is Nothing New for Native Students," 7 May 2018 This combination is more than a relic of the financial crisis, however. The Economist, "Free exchangeCan’t hardly wait," 22 Mar. 2018 The Duga is no longer operational and now stands as a relic of the Cold War era. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "I Toured One of the Most Radioactive Places on Earth," 30 Jan. 2018 These trends, according to observers, have turned the government programs to support dislocated workers into relics of the past. Jeffrey Selingo, The Atlantic, "The False Promises of Worker Retraining," 8 Jan. 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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Dictionary Entries near relic





relic area



Phrases Related to relic

relic of the past

Statistics for relic

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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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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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).


not any or not one

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