Definition of relic in English:



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

    • ‘Models of historic buildings and cultural relics enable architects and archaeologists to study their subject in closer detail than might otherwise be possible.’
    • ‘It's loaded with ceramic artifacts and historical 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.’
    • ‘An extraordinary collection of photographs, relics and contemporary social pieces has been unveiled at the National Library of Australia, in Canberra.’
    • ‘Narrow staircases lead to vast, warehouse-sized chambers, and relics are scattered about the place.’
    • ‘Great buildings of government are important and in some cases, historical relics in and of themselves.’
    • ‘Both men support the proposal for a military museum in Geraldton where such relics will be displayed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The saddle no longer looked like an interesting historical relic but an instrument of torture.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Plans also call for a small underground exhibition space and archive containing photos, relics and historical information about the Holocaust.’
    • ‘This may appear justified when you consider that foreigners such as the British and Italians are guilty of looting historical relics.’
    • ‘Almost all the early Egyptian relics in England were brought back by travellers.’
    • ‘Like relics from an earlier age, they appeared gaunt, angular, rugged and unshaven!’
    • ‘It has some 4 million residents and is known for its beaches, hot springs, resorts and historic relics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 offers budget accommodation and has books and relics highlighting the history of the area.’
    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.
      • ‘Their great old houses overflow with rough medieval furniture, threadbare tapestries and religious relics worn smooth by the touch of generations.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Luther lived at a time when the bible was only available in Latin, when the Church exploited people by selling holy relics for salvation.’
      • ‘Instead of being regarded with panic or horror, these relics are reverenced.’
      • ‘It is exhilarating to visit these monasteries, as also the Buddhist Museum which has Buddhist relics excavated from various parts of India.’
      • ‘Here too were the holy relics of colonial Ireland passing through closure into our new present.’
      • ‘He had a profoundly religious nature and built the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, to house holy relics brought from Constantinople.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Pilgrimages to the sites of miracles and holy relics grew ever more popular, and the number of such places increased.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This Sunday, October 26, a record number of people are expected at Knock Shrine when the relics of Mother Teresa will arrive.’
      • ‘The reverence shown for relics has roots in the celebration of the Eucharist over the graves of the first Christian martyrs.’
      • ‘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 holy relic is believed to protect the 25 sq. km. former Portuguese colony, on the doorstep of China, from natural disasters.’
      • ‘They apparently have holy relics stored in the crypt.’
      • ‘The palace and the king also attracted many holy relics whose number and quality bestowed prestige and authority on their owner.’
      • ‘First degree relics are remains of a saint's body or any of their body parts.’
      • ‘He could invoke saints and employ relics, sprinkle holy water and exorcise the devil.’
      • ‘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.’
      remains, body parts, bones
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    2. 1.2 An 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’
      • ‘They are relics of an earlier, darkly seductive era.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Likewise, when talkies replaced silent movies, many stars of the earlier era were unable to adapt and became human relics.’
      • ‘It, in a sense, is a relic of an earlier age of procedure.’
      • ‘Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To them, Sonny was an anachronism, a relic from a primitive time when the locomotive was technology's cutting edge.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The award is something of a quaint relic - freemen have the right to graze sheep on common ground.’
      • ‘But, somehow, those posters seemed past it, (like himself) relics of an earlier decade.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The 65,000-square-foot structure was a relic of the 1970s, designed to house the post office's old computer system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He and his type would be regarded as living fossils, relics of an earlier era.’
      • ‘The kings and the Council of Elders are relics of an archaic system.’
      • ‘But in election year 2004, the film views like a historical relic.’
      • ‘Coombs was a relic of an earlier, gentler time, when the privacy of public officials (even politicians) was normally regarded as sacrosanct.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3relics All that is left of something.
      ‘relics of a lost civilization’
      • ‘No longer living beings, they stare out at us as preserved relics from a lost time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Among the treasured relics of Bill's Air Force sporting career is a timber trophy, which he refers to as his ‘big egg cup’.’
      • ‘There were far fewer rich private carriages in the streets, and any number of bits of furniture or other battered relics of aristocratic or pious living could be bought from street dealers.’
      • ‘There is no need to collect relics of his life.’
      • ‘But you can also see it in the hint of a new cinema born from the relics of its own history.’
      • ‘We imitated the West in creating museums to house the relics of our past, whereas traditionally we had lived with our past in our daily present.’


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