Definition of relic in English:



  • 1An object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical interest.

    ‘a museum of railway relics’
    • ‘An extraordinary collection of photographs, relics and contemporary social pieces has been unveiled at the National Library of Australia, in Canberra.’
    • ‘By the 1840s, however, there was growing interest in antiques, and this bowl may well have been given to the church as a historical relic.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It has some 4 million residents and is known for its beaches, hot springs, resorts and historic relics.’
    • ‘Even more tragic is the loss of thousands of cultural and historical relics.’
    • ‘Some of the most interesting photographs are of relics from the War of 1812 and a captured bell from the Philippine Insurrection of 1899.’
    • ‘The Fort is a treasure house of priceless relics - miniatures, paintings, howdahs, palanquins and arms - all displayed with an astute eye for aesthetics and history.’
    • ‘Almost all the early Egyptian relics in England were brought back by travellers.’
    • ‘The saddle no longer looked like an interesting historical relic but an instrument of torture.’
    • ‘Plans also call for a small underground exhibition space and archive containing photos, relics and historical information about the Holocaust.’
    • ‘I would like to start by making it clear that, for the most part, I am in favour of the preservation of historical relics for both the enjoyment of, and study by, both our own and future generations.’
    • ‘It offers budget accommodation and has books and relics highlighting the history of the area.’
    • ‘The three rooms in the cottage are furnished as they would have been in the pioneering days and many relics of interest have been donated to add to the display.’
    • ‘Both men support the proposal for a military museum in Geraldton where such relics will be displayed.’
    • ‘Models of historic buildings and cultural relics enable architects and archaeologists to study their subject in closer detail than might otherwise be possible.’
    • ‘This may appear justified when you consider that foreigners such as the British and Italians are guilty of looting historical relics.’
    • ‘It's loaded with ceramic artifacts and historical relics.’
    • ‘Great buildings of government are important and in some cases, historical relics in and of themselves.’
    • ‘Like relics from an earlier age, they appeared gaunt, angular, rugged and unshaven!’
    • ‘Narrow staircases lead to vast, warehouse-sized chambers, and relics are scattered about the place.’
    artefact, historical object, ancient object, antiquity, antique, heirloom, object of virtu, curio
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    1. 1.1 A part of a deceased holy person's body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.
      ‘miracles wrought by the relics of St Stephen’
      • ‘The violence he remembered was no local riot: it was part of a chain of violence that had been set off by the theft of a holy relic from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1964.’
      • ‘The holy relic is believed to protect the 25 sq. km. former Portuguese colony, on the doorstep of China, from natural disasters.’
      • ‘Luther lived at a time when the bible was only available in Latin, when the Church exploited people by selling holy relics for salvation.’
      • ‘Their great old houses overflow with rough medieval furniture, threadbare tapestries and religious relics worn smooth by the touch of generations.’
      • ‘The doctors who were tending to the Pope during his final hours are auctioning off a sample of the Pope's blood as a holy relic.’
      • ‘The reverence shown for relics has roots in the celebration of the Eucharist over the graves of the first Christian martyrs.’
      • ‘He had a profoundly religious nature and built the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, to house holy relics brought from Constantinople.’
      • ‘Pilgrimages to the sites of miracles and holy relics grew ever more popular, and the number of such places increased.’
      • ‘They apparently have holy relics stored in the crypt.’
      • ‘Here too were the holy relics of colonial Ireland passing through closure into our new present.’
      • ‘He could invoke saints and employ relics, sprinkle holy water and exorcise the devil.’
      • ‘It is exhilarating to visit these monasteries, as also the Buddhist Museum which has Buddhist relics excavated from various parts of India.’
      • ‘First degree relics are remains of a saint's body or any of their body parts.’
      • ‘Instead of being regarded with panic or horror, these relics are reverenced.’
      • ‘Indeed, there is a relic in the historical museum of the University of Lund which is said to be a piece of the tree under which the Holy Family rested on their famous journey.’
      • ‘With the canonisation of the Confessor in 1161, his regalia gained the status of holy relics, further increasing the veneration with which they were regarded.’
      • ‘The palace and the king also attracted many holy relics whose number and quality bestowed prestige and authority on their owner.’
      • ‘This Sunday, October 26, a record number of people are expected at Knock Shrine when the relics of Mother Teresa will arrive.’
      • ‘People have a long history of conserving paintings, buildings and religious relics.’
      • ‘These holy relics were keenly sought after as the people saw their purchase as a way of pleasing God.’
      remains, body parts, bones
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    2. 1.2 A person or thing that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded.
      ‘the supermodel has become an embarrassing relic from the early 1990s’
      • ‘Coombs was a relic of an earlier, gentler time, when the privacy of public officials (even politicians) was normally regarded as sacrosanct.’
      • ‘But, somehow, those posters seemed past it, (like himself) relics of an earlier decade.’
      • ‘To them, Sonny was an anachronism, a relic from a primitive time when the locomotive was technology's cutting edge.’
      • ‘They are relics of an earlier, darkly seductive era.’
      • ‘The 65,000-square-foot structure was a relic of the 1970s, designed to house the post office's old computer system.’
      • ‘He and his type would be regarded as living fossils, relics of an earlier era.’
      • ‘Likewise, when talkies replaced silent movies, many stars of the earlier era were unable to adapt and became human relics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Italian urban landscape was filled with shrines, relics, icons, and various forms of religious theatre that brought the holy directly into the lives of people.’
      • ‘No longer a ‘basic sauce’, the demi-glace is now considered to be a relic of an archaic form of cookery referred to respectfully as cuisine classique but no longer practised.’
      • ‘What is so important about her is that even at the age of 92, she is no relic of the early twentieth century but continues to be a prolific commentator on her world.’
      • ‘Some worry that after 96 years its members have become disengaged, its methods anachronistic relics of 1960s protest.’
      • ‘The kings and the Council of Elders are relics of an archaic system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But in election year 2004, the film views like a historical relic.’
      • ‘The award is something of a quaint relic - freemen have the right to graze sheep on common ground.’
      • ‘I hope also to show that perennial philosophy is not an historical relic, a cast-off from an alien time, fit only for the cramped exegesis of modern historians of ideas.’
      • ‘Needless to say, with the rapid improvements being made in DLP technology, in a few years both color breakup and motion artifacts will likely be historical relics.’
      • ‘Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics.’
      • ‘It, in a sense, is a relic of an earlier age of procedure.’


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