Definition of relic in English:


Syllabification: rel·ic
Pronunciation: /ˈrelik


  • 1An object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical or sentimental interest.
    More example sentences
    • The saddle no longer looked like an interesting historical relic but an instrument of torture.
    • It's a city packed full of historical monuments and relics, of myths and legends, which seem to come to life every time you walk through its century old streets.
    • Models of historic buildings and cultural relics enable architects and archaeologists to study their subject in closer detail than might otherwise be possible.
    artifact, historical object, ancient object, antiquity, antique
  • 1.1A part of a deceased holy person’s body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.
    More example sentences
    • The holy relic is believed to protect the 25 sq. km. former Portuguese colony, on the doorstep of China, from natural disasters.
    • Pilgrimages to the sites of miracles and holy relics grew ever more popular, and the number of such places increased.
    • The reverence shown for relics has roots in the celebration of the Eucharist over the graves of the first Christian martyrs.
    remains, corpse, bones; Medicine cadaver
  • 1.2An object, custom, or belief that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded: individualized computer programming and time-sharing would become expensive relics
    More example sentences
    • In Scotland, however, the old code remained legal and came to be viewed simultaneously as a relic of outmoded ways of life and as a sign of modernity.
    • Coombs was a relic of an earlier, gentler time, when the privacy of public officials (even politicians) was normally regarded as sacrosanct.
    • Some historians indicated that the four western Kavango groups of today are most probably some of the oldest relics of the earliest inhabitants of central Africa.
  • 1.3 (relics) All that is left of something: relics of a lost civilization
    More example sentences
    • Rationally speaking, it is one of a small family of great universal museums, the huge monster museums which are relics of the imperial period of history.
    • Trees grow out of the windows and rotted roofs of stately old brick homes, relics of bygone opulence.
    • And today, the United Nations has declared cities that have preserved relics of that era as World Heritage Sites.


Middle English: from Old French relique (originally plural), from Latin reliquiae (see reliquiae).

More definitions of relic

Definition of relic in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman