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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 relics

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 relics

Contemporary Examples of relics

Historical Examples of relics

  • Suffice it to record the fact that these relics are admittedly pre-Christian.

    The Non-Christian Cross

    John Denham Parsons

  • This layer was evidently composed of the relics of a Romano-British people.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • Curious legends often cluster round these relics of ancient times.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • There were not wanting, however, many other relics of those stormy times.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • In the morning he is shown the curiosities, chiefly Scripture relics, in the palace.


    James Anthony Froude

British Dictionary definitions for relics


  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 relics



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