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

Grenfell Tower now stands in Kensington as a relic, covered in scaffolding and white sheets like a bandage over broken bones. Sarah Tilotta, CNN, "'I am broken': A year on and still no justice for Grenfell fire victims," 13 June 2018 Sunday’s final was the last go-round for one of the grand relics of tennis, Roland Garros’s Court Philippe Chatrier, which will undergo a modernization in the off-season, and, eventually, add a roof. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Rafael Nadal in Paris: This One Goes to Eleven," 10 June 2018 Many machine guns held by civilians are war relics brought home by GIs, going back to World War II. Polly Mosendz,, "How One Man Got Rich Selling Machine Guns," 5 Apr. 2018 Many machine guns held by civilians are war relics brought home by GIs, going back to World War II. Fortune, "How Buying and Selling Machine Guns in America Made This Man Rich — Yes, Actual Machine Guns," 5 Apr. 2018 That’s triple the number of relics in any previous exhibition. Brittany Martin, Los Angeles Magazine, "The 5 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Weekend," 29 Mar. 2018 Provided by Eric Grayson An Indianapolis man who is terrible at basketball and is not even much interested in basketball is the unlikely savior of one of the true basketball relics in basketball-mad Indiana. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "Here's your chance to see the film of 1954 basketball championship that inspired 'Hoosiers'," 23 Jan. 2018 The church had canonized the family in 2000, which meant that any physical remains were now holy relics. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Town & Country, "The Devastating True Story of the Romanov Family's Execution," 5 Oct. 2016 Having the princes vanish suited Richard, for without a grave there could be no focus for a cult, and without bodies there would be no relics either. Leanda De Lisle, Newsweek, "Did Richard III Kill the Princes in the Tower?," 13 July 2014

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



Statistics for relic

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for relic

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

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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 \

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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