rel·​ic ˈre-lik How to pronounce relic (audio)
: an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr
relics plural : remains, corpse
: a survivor or remnant left after decay, disintegration, or disappearance
: a trace of some past or outmoded practice, custom, or belief

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 Two other favorites: Spread across two Renaissance mansions and a beautiful courtyard, Musée Carnavalet explores the history of Paris through street signs and other fascinating relics of its past. Sophie Dodd, Travel + Leisure, 22 Mar. 2024 Mary Desjardins, a professor of film and media studies at Dartmouth, compared such items to saints’ relics. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2024 Traditional phones may seem like relics in the iPhone era, but a recent AT&T cellular service outage had some landline lovers extolling their virtues. Michael Levenson, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2024 The kind outlawed in the United States by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Slavery as a relic of the 19th Century. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Greece’s first archaeology museums, meanwhile, privileged the relics of the city’s Periclean heyday over items from earlier eras or the non-Greek world. Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024 Two weeks later, a bust was also found close to the site of the original find, and the relics were cleaned, examined and reassembled by a conservator, who dated the sculpture to the 1st century or 2nd century. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, 19 Mar. 2024 Pi is a special number — so special, in fact, that most laypeople are probably aware of it, even if only as a relic of bygone classroom lectures or geometry textbooks. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 14 Mar. 2024 Among these is a towering and weathered sign for a long-defunct roadside restaurant, one of the ghost-town relics of Route 66’s heyday, before an interstate left it in the dust. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'relic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near relic

Cite this Entry

“Relic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


rel·​ic ˈrel-ik How to pronounce relic (audio)
: an object treated with great respect because of its connection with a saint or martyr
: something left behind after decay or disappearance
relics of ancient cities

More from Merriam-Webster on relic

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