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See more synonyms for relic on Thesaurus.com
  1. a surviving memorial of something past.
  2. an object having interest by reason of its age or its association with the past: a museum of historic relics.
  3. a surviving trace of something: a custom that is a relic of paganism.
  4. relics,
    1. remaining parts or fragments.
    2. the remains of a deceased person.
  5. something kept in remembrance; souvenir; memento.
  6. Ecclesiastical. (especially in the Roman Catholic and Greek churches) the body, a part of the body, or some personal memorial of a saint, martyr, or other sacred person, preserved as worthy of veneration.
  7. a once widespread linguistic form that survives in a limited area but is otherwise obsolete.
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Origin of relic

1175–1225; Middle English < Old French relique < Latin reliquiae (plural) remains (> Old English reliquias), equivalent to reliqu(us) remaining + -iae plural noun suffix
Related formsrel·ic·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for relic

antique, evidence, keepsake, remains, antiquity, fragment, remnant, souvenir, monument, curio, memento, artifact, vestige, trophy, memorial, survival, testimonial, trace, heirloom, scrap

Examples from the Web for relic

Contemporary Examples of relic

Historical Examples of relic

  • I found it in this cell, after the death of the martyr, and have preserved it as a relic.

    The Black Tulip

    Alexandre Dumas (Pere)

  • The mistresses of the present princes are a relic of polygamy.

  • I brought out my relic of other days, and displayed it to the boys in the shanty.

  • But, after all, this is an old-fashioned method, and the rhinoceros is a relic.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • "A wonderful talisman is the relic of a good mother, sir," said the old parson.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for relic


  1. something that has survived from the past, such as an object or custom
  2. something kept as a remembrance or treasured for its past associations; keepsake
  3. (usually plural) a remaining part or fragment
  4. RC Church Eastern Churches part of the body of a saint or something supposedly used by or associated with a saint, venerated as holy
  5. informal an old or old-fashioned person or thing
  6. (plural) archaic the remains of a dead person; corpse
  7. ecology a less common term for relict (def. 1)
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Word Origin for relic

C13: from Old French relique, from Latin reliquiae remains, from relinquere to leave behind, relinquish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for relic


early 13c., "body part or other object from a holy person," from Old French relique (11c., plural reliques), from Late Latin reliquiæ (plural) "remains of a martyr," in classical Latin "remains, remnants," noun use of fem. plural of reliquus "remaining, that which remains," related to relinquere (perfective reliqui) "to leave behind" (see relinquish). Sense of "remains, ruins" is from early 14c. Old English used reliquias, directly from Latin.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper